Senator Christopher "Bong" Go renewed his call for the passage of his twin measures establishing the Department of Disaster Resilience and requiring the construction of mandatory evacuation centers following a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Northern Luzon.

“Ako naman bilang inyong senador, sa pagbukas po ng Kongreso, I filed Senate Bill 188, ito po ang Department of Disaster Resilience. Matagal ko na po itong nai-file sa 18th Congress, hanggang ngayon sa 19th Congress nag-file po ako,” said Go in an ambush interview after personally distributing assistance to indigent residents of Manay, Davao Oriental on Thursday, July 28.

“Ito pong bill na ito kung sakaling pumasa ay magkakaroon ho tayo ng isang cabinet secretary level na departamento. Cabinet secretary level na iyon po ang tututok,” he added.

Senate Bill No. 188 aims to establish a Department of Disaster Resilience which will bring together all essential functions and mandates currently scattered among various disaster-related agencies. Once established, it shall be primarily responsible for implementing programs, projects and activities that ensure communities are disaster-resilient, adaptive and safe. 

Go was prompted to refile the bill because “the Philippines’ experiences with natural disasters have shown that the existing laws, policies, resources, and institutional arrangements governing disaster management lacked responsiveness to the country's requirements for disaster resilience.”

“Kailangan pong may nakatutok na isang opisina, coordination kaagad. A cabinet secretary level na rerespetuhin po ng kapwa cabinet secretary niya. Iyon po ang gusto nating mangyari, isang departamentong nakatutok po sa disaster-related situation,” stressed Go.

The senator maintained that a new department with a secretary in charge would ensure more focused government efforts during calamities. This will also support President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s pronouncements in his inaugural speech to “spare victims” and “help them recover” from the impact of climate change.

Aside from the DDR bill, Go also refiled SBN 193, or the Mandatory Evacuation Center Bill, which will require every province, city and municipality to construct such centers that will be equipped with emergency packs, medicines and other basic necessities.

“Tuwing mayroong disaster, inililikas sila sa evacuation center. Kadalasan po ang mga evacuation center na paglilikasan sa kanila ay eskwelahan o gym. Pabalik na tayo sa face-to-face classes, so maapektuhan na naman po ang pagbabalik sa face-to-face classes kung gagamitin ‘yung gym, eh, priority po iyon,” lamented the senator.

“So dapat po ang Pilipino ay bigyan natin ng isang maayos, disente, malinis na evacuation center sa mga probinsya, sa mga munisipalidad at sa mga syudad tuwing may sunog, baha, paglindol, o pagputok ng bulkan,” he added.

Under the proposed measure, the construction and maintenance of evacuation centers in all localities shall be implemented by a coordinated Department of Public Works and Highways, the local government units concerned, and other line agencies. 

The bill also provides the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, including the location, structural or building capacity, and amenities and accessibility.

“Mayroon silang pagsisilungan, mayroon silang papahingahan na malinis at mayroong mga comfort room, may mga bata na mailalayo natin sa sakit ‘no,” said Go.

“Malinis dapat na evacuation center, dedicated na evacuation center para sa mga kababayan nating mahihirap po at kadalasan po ang nasusunugan ‘yung mahihirap na tabi-tabi ang bahay,” he added.

Go then committed to help the communities in Northern Luzon affected by the latest earthquake. He also expressed his condolences to the families of those who perished as a result of the disaster.

“Gaya po ng dati, sa abot po ng aking makakaya ay tutulong po ako sa mga naging biktima ng lindol,” assured the senator.

“Bago pa man po ang lahat, nakikiramay po ako sa mga nasawi, sa mga pamilya po ng biktima ng lindol doon sa Abra, sa Vigan, sa mga kababayan natin sa Region I at sa CAR. Ako po’y nakikiramay sa naging biktima, sa mga nasaktan, sa mga nasalanta,” he said.

The senator also expressed his confidence that the government is on top of the situation and will immediately provide the needs of the victims so that they may recover promptly.

“Ang atin naman dito, tiwala po ako sa ating pamahalaan, sa ating national government na makarating kaagad ang tulong mula sa national government agencies,” he ended.

Meanwhile, Go urged vigilance and caution after the country detected its first case of monekypox. He also called for stricter disease surveillance and improved border control as he cited lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go said that awareness, detection, surveillance, and containment are key to prevent the disease from spreading across the country.

"Mahalagang matutukan po ng gobyerno ang awareness, detection, disease surveillance, and containment kaagad at huwag kumalat ang sakit na Monkeypox," said Go.

"Eye opener po ‘yung nangyari sa atin sa COVID-19 so dapat po’y matuto na tayo at mahirap na pong maulit muli ‘yung nangyari sa atin na nabigla po tayo. Nadala na tayo sa nangyari. Sundin po natin ang mga minimum health protocol na pinapatupad po ng gobyerno," he added.

At the opening of the 19th Congress, Go refiled a bill which seeks to establish the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC shall serve as the lead agency for developing communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will be primarily responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the Philippines.

He also reintroduced his bill seeking to establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines. The proposed measure seeks to boost the country's ability to develop vaccines against highly pathogenic emerging viruses.