PRRD, Bong Go aid Taal evacuees in Sto. Tomas, Batangas

President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, led the distribution of relief assistance to victims of the Taal volcano eruption in Sto. Tomas, Batangas the other Monday, January 20, 2020.

Aside from the distribution of relief goods to affected families and individuals, the Office of the President also gave financial assistance to disaster-stricken local government units (LGUs) to help in their recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Senator Go also gave away dust masks to affected LGUs for distribution to residents to protect them from the effects of the ashfall.

During his speech, Duterte said that he would ask Congress to pass a supplemental budget to reinforce the government’s efforts in response to the volcanic eruption.

“I will ask Congress to expedite to cover P30 billion. Iyong tulong, pati sa livestock,” he said “Dadating ang tulong sa inyo, maghintay lang kayo, and we will act fast. Sa tamang panahon, dadating ang tulong sa inyo,” he added.

The President also called for the construction of permanent evacuation centers in disaster-prone areas across the country.

“I’m urging Congress sa lahat ng areas na prone sa disaster na magkaroon ng mga evacuation center na malalaki lalo na ‘yung mga probinsya na nakaharap sa Pacific Ocean,” Duterte said.

On his part, Senator Go filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1228 in December last year which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, province and municipality throughout the country.

According to the senator, it is necessary to build permanent evacuation centers nationwide to ensure the safety of Filipinos in times of natural calamities and other disasters given the geographic location of the country.

Go, who has now visited Batangas for the third time since the eruption, also joined the President on January 14 at the Batangas Sports Complex for a situation briefing with key government officials.

The senator returned on January 16 when he distributed financial assistance, relief goods and packed meals to evacuees at Bauan Technical High School in Bauan, Batangas, and Barangay Kaybagal South in Tagaytay City.

Recently, the Bicol-based regional party called on Senator “Bong” Go, their Honorary Member, to seriously look into their proposal to create a superbody on disaster resilience.

The Bicol-based regional party, suggests that instead of a separate department, they underscored the need for Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, to persuade President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an Executive Order creating the National Disaster And Reconstruction Management Authority which will be solely responsible in overseeing the over-all disaster risk reduction operations in the country to include reconstruction and rehabilitation works.

Kusog Bicolandia Chairman Emeritus Noel De Luna said creating a new department to handle disaster resilience would be counter-productive as different government agencies have their respective mandates in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction responsibilities.

He said an agency should be tasked to develop disaster mitigation and rehabilitation plans and oversee its implementation for each provincial disaster requirements across the country.

“A super body is better than a new line department,” De Luna said in a statement.  He explained the need for such after lawmakers issued calls for a rehabilitation plan to address Taal volcano eruption victims’ needs.

Closer to home, the Bicolanos have long suffered from disastrous typhoons from Sisang in 1987 to Reming in 2006 which were accompanied by storm surges which devastated coastal areas.  He also cited the recent volcanic eruptions from the famed Mayon Volcano to Bulusan in Sorsogon province.

“We are requesting Senator Go to intervene in the creation of a superbody to address everything from conception to implementation of local and national programs for each calamity where quick response is guaranteed along with well-funded and closely supervised rehabilitation programs,” De Luna explained.

The proposed NDRMA shall be led by a Director General who reports directly to the President of the Philippines.  The support of various government agencies is expected due to the President’s guidance.

There will be Board Members with its own regular reconstruction funding and an oversight on how the Sovereign Calamity Fund will be utilized.

The current NDRRMC shall serve as the governing board of the proposed NDRMA with its secretariat fully expanded to a full authority with regional offices.

De Luna said the creation of such an “Authority” will simply require an executive fiat and is in accord with the existing Republic Act 10121 entitled “Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Act of 2010. (RDeleoz)

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