IN an interview after the groundbreaking of a Super Health Center in Caraga, Davao Oriental on Saturday, November 18, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go emphasized the need for a proactive approach to disaster management in the Philippines. This comes in the wake of the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck parts of Southern Mindanao on the same day, resulting in a significant loss of life and property.
Go has renewed his advocacy for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“I will not lose hope. Patuloy akong mananawagan. Maybe, at the proper time, ay maipapasa na rin ito dahil kailangan talaga natin ng cabinet-level na secretary para rin maayos at mas mabilis ‘yung koordinasyon between the national government agencies and the local government offices,” he emphasized.
As the country is prone to various calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, Go previously filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 188, which aims to establish the DDR, would centralize efforts, streamline coordination, and ensure a more swift and effective response to emergencies, if enacted into law.
He envisions the DDR secretary playing a pivotal role in coordinating recovery and reconstruction efforts with other departments after disasters, ensuring a return to normalcy and rehabilitation.
For instance, should a bridge collapse, he sees the DDR working closely with the Department of Public Works and Highways as well as the LGUs for its rebuilding.
“Isang aspeto na dapat natin mas maisaayos pa ay ang inter-agency coordination. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit matagal ko nang inirerekomenda at paulit-ulit ko nang sinasabi na dapat magkaroon ng isang departamento na may secretary-level na in-charge para mayroong timon na tagapamahala ng preparedness, response, and resilience mechanisms pagdating sa ganitong mga krisis at sakuna,” he said.
Go also sees the DDR playing a central role in the preposition of goods, coordination with local government units, and prompt evacuation of affected populations to safe locations even before a disaster strikes.
“Kung may DDR, ito na ang lalapitan natin. Sila ang kakausapin ng Pangulo at sila ang gagabay sa local officials at iba pang ahensya. Bago pa man dumating ang kalamidad, maghahanda na sila. Hindi na po malilito ang ating mga kababayan kung kanino at saan sila hihingi ng tulong at impormasyon,” he added.
The quake’s impact was particularly severe in Sarangani province, where the death toll reached seven and numerous infrastructures were damaged. Among the casualties were a mother and her child, whose bodies were recovered from a collapsed mountainside in Glan, Sarangani.
“Kung gaano kabilis at kadalas ang pagdating ng krisis sa ating bansa, dapat lamang na maging mas mabilis, mas maayos, at mas maaasahan ang serbisyo natin upang maprotektahan ang kapakanan at buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he noted.
Go said that his advocacy for the DDR is grounded in his commitment to protecting the welfare and lives of Filipinos in the face of frequent natural disasters. He underscored the rapidity and frequency of crises in the Philippines, emphasizing the need for swift, efficient, and reliable services to protect the well-being and lives of every Filipino.
In July this year, the Office of Civil Defense voiced its support for the establishment of the DDR, emphasizing the importance of such an institution in improving operations in managing and responding to future crises.
Aside from the measure, Go recently co-sponsored Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2451 or the Ligtas Pinoy Centers bill primarily sponsored by Senator Jinggoy Estrada. The measure, based on the Mandatory Evacuation Center bill that Go earlier filed, aims to establish permanent, well-equipped evacuation centers nationwide.