Go credits low typhoon casualties to LGU preps, coordination
LGUs LAUDED. Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go during the distribution of assistance to typhoon victims in Rizal on Thursday (Nov. 19, 2020). He commended local government officials in areas hit hard by the recent typhoons for their preparations and close coordination. (Contributed photo)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has commended local government officials in areas hit hard by the recent typhoons for their preparations and close coordination, saying their efforts resulted in a low number of casualties.
In an interview after leading the distribution of assistance to typhoon victims in Rizal on Thursday, Go said local officials have enough experience and mechanisms in place as far as disaster response is concerned, compared to the previous years.
“Unang-una, kinokomenda ko ang mga LGUs natin dahil handa sila sa panahong ito, unlike before na nangangapa pa tayo. Ngayon, pinaghahandaan nang husto ng LGUs ang mga bagyo at sakuna (First of all, I applaud our LGUs for being prepared, unlike before when we were struggling. Now, LGUs seriously prepare for storms and calamities),” he said, commending the local disaster preparedness measures in place that have helped save the lives of Filipinos.
On the massive flooding that hit the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, Go noted that according to the weather bureau, only 15 percent of the floodwaters came from the Magat Dam, while 85 percent came from the rains brought by the typhoon.
“I commend the LGUs po sa effort nila na maghanda, lalo na po ang pag-evacuate bago pa dumating ang pagtaas ng tubig (I commend the LGUs for their preparations, especially in carrying out evacuations before the waters start to rise),” he added.
Asked if a fact-finding committee would be needed to probe the release of water from the Magat Dam, which compounded the floods in Cagayan and Isabela, Go said that would be the prerogative of President Rodrigo Duterte and concerned authorities.
He said, however, that he would rather focus on efforts to help affected residents fully recover and make communities more resilient by “building back better.”
Go said while government efforts keep on improving in terms of disaster preparedness and response, there is a need to think long-term on how to mitigate and reduce risks in future disasters.
“Dito papasok ang task force sa recovery and rehab. May klaro itong mandato at kapasidad upang maimplementa ang mga programa hanggang makabangon muli ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi ito titigil hanggang matapos ang trabaho (This is where the task force on recovery and rehabilitation comes in. It has a clear mandate and capacity to implement the program until our countrymen could get back on their feet),” he said.
Go said the President has been consistent in his marching orders for all concerned agencies to immediately assist all affected Filipinos, use all available resources to restore normalcy as soon as possible, and mobilize the entire government for a holistic approach towards recovery and rehabilitation.
“Ang dapat gawin natin ngayon ay kung paano po maka-recover ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na po ang mga tinamaan tulad ng Catanduanes at Cagayan Valley. Nandiyan ang task force, pwede nilang umpisahan ang rehabilitation efforts at makikita nila doon kung ano talaga ang pagkukulang ng gobyerno (What we need to do right now is to find ways for our countrymen to recover, particularly those in Catanduanes and Cagayan Valley. The task force is there, they could start the rehabilitation efforts to see what else the government could do),” he said.
Meanwhile, Go said he has discussed with Duterte the construction of mandatory evacuation centers throughout the country, noting that present structures are inadequate.
He added that the mandatory evacuation center would be a big help to the government, as it would no longer use schools and classrooms as disaster shelters.
“Kagaya nito, nagagamit ang mga eskwelahan, paano kung may klase, saan sila ilalagay? Huwag na natin antayin na may panibagong kalamidad pa na dumating, umaksyon na tayo agad dahil buhay ng mga Pilipino ang nakasalalay dito (Schools are being used as evacuation centers. What if there are classes? Where are we going to place the evacuees? Let us not wait for another calamity, we need to act immediately because the lives of Filipinos are at stake),” Go said.
Last year, he filed Senate Bill 1228, which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, municipality, and province throughout the country.
While Go noted that the Department of Public Works and Highways has exerted efforts to build evacuation centers in every region, he said these need to be augmented and enhanced to accommodate the needs and protect the lives of the evacuees.
These evacuation centers, he said, must be conducive for disaster responders to provide immediate assistance to the evacuees.
Health and safety protocols must also be in place to prevent the spread of diseases, especially with the ongoing pandemic.
“Dapat may komportableng higaan ang mga bata, hindi magkakasakit, may comfort room sila at may maayos na sanitation. Hindi lang dapat ito lugar na pansamantalang masisilungan, ito dapat ay lugar na mapoprotektahan sila, maaalagaan sila, at matutulungan silang makabangon muli (The children must have a comfortable place to sleep in, not get sick, with comfort room and proper sanitation. It [evacuation center] should not only be a temporary shelter but a place where they would be protected, taken care of, and be assisted to enable them to recover),” he said.
Meanwhile, during his visit to typhoon victims in Rizal, Go said the National Housing Authority would provide assistance to affected residents should they wish to be relocated or rebuild their homes.
“Magbibigay ng pambili ng housing materials at sino naman po ang gustong lumipat ng bahay, merong murang pabahay sa Rizal (Assistance for the purchase of housing materials is available and there is a low-cost housing in Rizal to anyone who wishes to relocate),” he said.
“Pwede rin po nilang i-avail ‘yan dahil talagang medyo delikado po ang kanilang lugar tuwing merong baha at sunod sunod na bagyo tulad nang nangyari (This is offered because their area is vulnerable to flooding every time there is a typhoon, just like what happened recently).” (PR)