Press Release
July 14, 2021

Aside from providing immediate aid to families displaced by Taal crisis, Bong Go continues to push for measures to address housing needs of Filipinos and build more disaster resilient communities

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go assured Filipinos who are affected by the continuing Taal Volcano unrest that the national government and its concerned agencies are prepared to provide assistance as well as relocation sites particularly to those who are within the danger zones.

"Mayroon pong mga... housing projects ang NHA (National Housing Authority)," said Go during his visit to help victims of the Taal eruption in Laurel, Batangas on Tuesday, July 13.

"Sa ngayon 'no, mayroon na pong ongoing, mayroon na pong mga nailikas at tuloy-tuloy po ang housing programs ng ating NHA," he added.

Following a phreatomagmatic eruption that flung ash and other material up to one kilometer into the air, Taal Volcano has been on Alert Level 3 since July 1. Subsequently, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology advised that some barangays in the adjacent towns of Laurel and Agoncillo in Batangas be evacuated.

Volcanic earthquakes and tremors have continued to be produced by the volcano since then. According to the PHIVOLCS, 176 seismic events were registered on Sunday alone, with some lasting up to 16 minutes.

To provide the affected families and those who are displaced by natural and man-made disasters with access to proper housing, Go shared during an interview that he filed proposed measures that aim to enhance national housing programs, and to provide better access to the housing market for poor and crisis-affected Filipinos.

"Ako naman po, bilang Senador at miyembro po ng Committee on Housing, mayroon na po akong na-file sa Senado na mga panukalang batas. Ambitious man ang mga ito... ang atin dito sa ngayon is to address this problem na wala po silang paglalagyan," said Go, referring to the victims.

One of these measures, Senate Bill No. 203, also called the National Housing Development, Production and Financing Bill, was filed by the Senator in July 2019. It seeks to generate and mobilize funds to increase low-cost quality housing production; provide support mechanisms to improve access to housing options; guarantee the development of a strong, sustainable, accessible and affordable housing finance system; and increase private sector participation, among others.

Aside from the said measure, Go also filed SBN 1227 or the Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act. The bill seeks to provide families displaced by natural and man-made disasters with improved access to the formal housing market by offering a rental subsidy. For eligible beneficiaries below the poverty threshold as determined by the Philippine Statistics Authority, the subsidy will be at least 50 percent of the total amount of rentals.

Meanwhile, Go said he is also pushing for the passage of SBN 1228, which would build an evacuation center in every city, province, and municipality across the country to better prepare for natural catastrophes, which the country is prone to.

"Ako naman po sa Senado, nag-file ako ng mandatory evacuation center (bill) kung saan magkaroon sana ng mga evacuation center sa mga munisipyo, mga probinsya at mga siyudad," said Go.

Go said that it is only 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.

"Bagama't bill pa po 'yun sa ngayon, ang atin po dito is kailangan natin magtulungan at maglaan po ng pondo para sa mga evacuation center, malinis na evacuation center para po komportable man lang mga kababayan natin bago po sila umuwi sa kanilang mga pamamahay," he added.

Go's proposed bill provides for the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities and accessibility, operation and management, among others.

Moreover, Go said that he will continue to push for the enactment of SBN 205 that he filed in 2019, also known as the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019, which seeks the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience. The DDR is an empowered, highly specialized and responsive agency with clear unity of command and will be primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.

"Ako po ay hindi titigil at hindi mawawalan ng pag-asa. Isa po sa finile ko sa Senado itong Department of Disaster Resilience (bill) kasi kailangan po to scale up po 'yung preparedness to resilience," Go pointed out.

"Ibig sabihin, hindi lang nakahanda itong resilience na talagang kaya na natin makatayo muli pag tinamaan tayo ng bagyo, pagputok ng bulkan o earthquake," he added.

At present, 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 is merely a coordinating body.

The proposed department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.

Go further explained the advantages of his proposed DDR bill as he urged his fellow lawmakers to support the passage of the measure.

"Nasa second hearing committee level (na po ito) at hopefully po hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa... sana po madinig ng mga kasamahan kong Senador na maisabatas na po ito at kawawa po 'yung mga kababayan natin," said Go.

"Ako po ay saksi sa mga kababayan natin na naghihirap po sa kanilang kinalalagyan. Ako 'yung bumababa sa tao mismo, bumababa talaga ako kung nasaan po sila. Alam ko po ang problema dito sa baba. Pakiusap ko lang po, sana po huwag ng tagalan," he ended.

The DDR bill as well as the National Housing Development, Production and Financing Bill, the Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act and SBN 1228, or the Mandatory Evacuation Center Act of 2019, were all mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his past State of the Nation Address as part of the priority measures of the administration.

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