Press Release
January 6, 2020

Bong Go to push for passage of proposed disaster resiliency measures; aids fire victims in Manila

In a visit to fire victims in Santa Ana, Manila, on Sunday, January 5, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go said that he is pushing for the passage into laws in 2020 of the bills that he filed last year, especially the ones that seek to address disaster resiliency related problems in the country.

"Meron po akong mga na-file na bills na isinusulong ko. Isa rito ang pagtatatag ng Department of Disaster Resilience. Huwag na nating hintayin na magkaroon ng mga sunog, baha, at lindol (bago umaksyon). Dapat meron na tayong departamentong nakatutok talaga," Go said during an interview after he gave assistance to the fire victims.

Go's Senate Bill (SB) 205 or the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) Act seeks to create an empowered, highly specialized and responsive DDR with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities. The department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better. Presently, various government agencies dealing with disaster risk reduction and management are scattered in several departments and offices and the current lead National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is merely a coordinating body.

The bill also includes the construction of permanent evacuation centers in disaster-prone areas. "(Aside from natural disasters,) kailangan rin itong permanent evacuation centers tuwing may nasusunugan," he explained.

Another bill that mandates the establishment of safe, permanent and dedicated evacuation centers was also filed by Go last December. SB 1228, also known as the Mandatory Evacuation Center Act, will require every city, province and municipality to construct such centers that will be equipped with emergency packs, medicines and other basic necessities.

Cognizant of the need to modernize the country's fire protection bureau, the Senator also filed last July 2019 the Fire Protection Modernization bill (SB 204). The measure seeks to modernize the Bureau of Fire Protection with the adoption of a Fire Protection Modernization Program, which shall include the hiring of more personnel, acquisition of modern fire equipment, trainings for firefighters, among others, all designed to suppress all kinds of destructive fires and prevent deaths and injuries.

"Isa rin sa mga bill ko ang modernization ng Bureau of Fire Protection para may modernong kagamitan ang mga firefighter natin para naman maging safe sila sa kanilang trabaho," he said.

"Masakit at masyadong mahirap po ang masunugan ng bahay at mawalan ng mga minamahal sa buhay dahil sa mga sunog," Go admitted in previous interviews emphasizing the need for government to strengthen measures in preparing and protecting communities for such unfortunate situations.

Moreover, even before a series of strong earthquakes hit Mindanao late last year, Go already saw the need to update the National Building Code in order to ensure the safety and structural integrity of infrastructures in the country.

Before the Senate went on its holiday break, Go filed the Philippine Building Act (SB 1252), seeking to update the existing building code which took effect on February 19, 1977 when then president Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree 1096.

"Halos kalahating siglo na ang nagdaan mula na nagkaroon tayo ng National Building Code noong 1977 pa. Napapanahon nang kailangang ma-update ang lumang batas na ito. Kailangang sumabay ang ating mga batas sa mga pangangailangan ng modernong panahon, lalo na ngayon na mas dumadami at mas tumitindi ang mga kalamidad sa bansa, katulad ng lindol at bagyo. Huwag nang hintayin na may gumuhong gusali at may mamatay muli," Go explained.

A pioneering measure that tries to replicate the Davao 911 model was also filed by Go on his first month in the Senate. SB 394 or the Emergency Medical Services Systems Council (EMSS) Act, mandates all local government units to establish an emergency medical service system for their area of jurisdiction as well as dispatch centers where constituents can call in cases of emergencies. An Emergency Medical Services Systems Council (EMSS) to be created shall develop minimum requirements such as the need for emergency medical vehicles and ambulances.

"Ang EMSS ay magsisiguro na merong sapat na mga personahe, pasilidad, kagamitan at transportasyon na magagamit para sa epektibo, organisado at agarang paghahatid ng mga health and safety services para sa mga kailangang masaklolohan kaagad," Go explained.

It can be recalled that in 2019, the two laws that were signed by the President during the 18th Congress were based on the bills that Go initially filed. The Malasakit Center Act and the law postponing to December 2022 the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections were also campaign promises of Go.

Go also filed a bill that became a basis of the Salary Standardization Bill, which both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed on the third and final reading. "Inaasahan natin na malapit na itong pirmahan ng Pangulo," Go said.

Meanwhile, during his visit in Manila, Go distributed financial and relief assistance to 572 families, comprising 1,963 individuals, affected by a fire that occurred on January 1 on Pasigline, Sagrada Familia and Araullo Streets in Santa Ana district.

The Senator also told the victims, who were staying at Ignacio Villamor High School, that he would pay for the uniforms and school supplies of the affected children. He then offered help in the financial needs of those who need to undergo medical procedures, such as dialysis.

"Kami na pong bahala sa pamasahe at pagkain ninyo," he said, adding that their medical bills may be covered by the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Aside from the assistance extended by Go, the affected families received help from various agencies such as the DSWD, National Housing Authority (NHA), Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), among others.

Before going to Santa Ana, the Senator also distributed financial and relief assistance early in the day to the victims of a fire that occurred on December 31 at Barangay Vasra in Quezon City.

Go spent the first weekend of 2020 providing much needed assistance to fire victims, first in Pasay City, then in Tondo and Pandacan, Manila on Saturday, January 4. He then visited two more communities in Brgy. Vasra in Quezon City and in Santa Ana, Manila City on Sunday, January 5.

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