True to his promise to reach out to Filipinos anywhere in the country, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go travelled to one of the southernmost and isolated parts of the country, Sulu province, on Thursday, February 13, to deliver assistance to fire victims there.
Over 2,227 families composed of 11,225 individuals, lost their homes due to an electrical overload that razed their homes in at least three barangays in Jolo town last February 3.
Because of the incident, the families have been temporarily evacuated to the nearby sports complex and tennis court in Jolo.
“Sa mga kababayan kong nasunugan, ‘wag po kayong mag-alala, nandito po ang gobyerno, andyan si Allah, Panginoon handang tumulong,” Go said.
(To my countrymen who were victims of the fire: Don’t worry because your government, Allah and the President are here to help you.)
“Importante po walang nasaktan. Trabaho po namin na magserbisyo sa bawat Pilipino, at gaya ng ipinangako ko noon, kahit saang sulok kayo ng Pilipinas ay pupuntahan ko po kayo hanggang kaya ng aking oras at katawan,” the senator added.
(What was important was that nobody was hurt. It is our job to serve every Filipino, and like I had promised in the past, I will go to any corner of the Philippines to help.)
Go, whose advocacies include ensuring immediate government response to calamities and natural disasters, brought relief and financial assistance to each family.
“May dala po akong pagkain, groceries at financial assistance sa bawat pamilya. Ito po ay immediate na tulong muna para pantawid niyo ngayon,” Go added.
(I have brought food, groceries and financial assistance for every family. This is immediate assistance so which could bridge you through all the troubles.)
The senator also offered to provide new sets of school uniform and shoes to students affected by the incident.
According to Go, the education of the students should not be interrupted due to incidents like this. He also strongly encouraged the students to go back immediately to their respective schools so they would not miss any of their classes.
“Para sa mga estudyante dito, ako na ang bahala sa inyong mga uniporme at school supplies. Kahit sa panahon ngayon na may aksidente, dapat makakapasok pa rin kayo sa paaralan. Dapat hindi mapabayaan ang inyong pag-aaral dahil importante ito sa inyo,” Go said.
(For the students here, I will take care of your uniforms and school supplies. Even during times like this when there are calamities, you should still go to school. Don’t forsake your education because this is important for you.)
In his message to the fire victims, Go emphasized that it was not only his duty to be a legislator. As a public servant, he said that it was also his duty to visit Filipinos, most especially those who live far from Metro Manila, in their times of need in order to listen to their concerns and provide solutions to their daily struggles.
“Trabaho namin sa Senado ang legislation, constituency at representation. Hindi naman lahat ng mga Pilipino ang makakapunta ng opisina namin para humingi ng tulong. Kaya kami na ang bababa sa inyo at pakinggan ang inyong mga hinaing at makapagbigay ng solusyon sa inyong mga problema,” he said.
(It is our job in the Senate to legislate, tend to our constitutes and represent them. Not all Filipinos can come to our offices to ask for help. That’s why it is us, who are coming to you, to listen to your concerns and try to provide solutions to your problems.)
Meanwhile, concerned government agencies also went to Sulu to assist the victims. Representatives of the National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) were present to provide additional assistance to the residents.
“Kasama ko rin po ngayon ang mga representatives ng iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno. Narito po ang NHA para magbigay ng housing materials sa inyo, DSWD at PCSO para sa mga pinansyal na tulong. May iba pa pong ahensya ng gobyerno na laging handang magserbisyo, lalo na sa oras ng sakuna,” he said.
(I also have with me today the representatives of the different agencies of government. The NHA is here to give you housing materials. DSWD and PCSO, for financial assistance. There are other agencies which are always ready to serve, especially during times of crisis.)
NHA provided cash assistance initially to 100 families whose houses were fully damaged. The rest will be distributed next week. DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program was also provided as financial assistance to each family while PCSO distributed grocery packs.
For individuals interested in skills training, TESDA offered carpentry training program for them.
Meanwhile, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told members of the media during an ambush interview that he appreciated the efforts of the senator in bringing service to Filipinos, especially in this time of need.
“Talagang sarili talaga ni Senator Bong Go na pumunta dito para ipaabot ang serbisyo ng pamahalaan,” Tan told reporters.
(Senator Go really took it upon himself to come here to extend the services of the government)
He further said, “Dati, wala namang tulong na dumarating dito sa ating lalawigan. Sabi nga noon, neglected ang ating probinsya, ngayon, nakita niyo naman walang sunog dito sa Pilipinas na hindi pinupuntahan ni Senator Bong Go, kaya dito nararamdaman ng ating taumbayan ang serbisyo ng pamahalaan at ni Senator Go.”
(Times were when no help came here in our province. As they used to say, our province has been neglected. But now, you can see that there is no fire incident in the Philippines that Senator Bong Go has not been to. This is how our countrymen really get to feel what government service is, and that of Senator Go)
Go also thanked Tan and the rest of the people of Sulu for the support they have given to the senator and to the Duterte Administration.
“Salamat din po kay Governor… sa lahat ng taga-Jolo, Sulu sa suporta ninyo sa akin noon, at ngayon andito ako, handa akong magserbisyo sa inyo,” Go said.
(I would also like to thank the Governor…to all the people from Jolo, Sulu for your support before, and now, I am before you, ready to be of service to you)
“Di po ako pulitiko pero sa abot ng aking makakaya, magseserbisyo ako sa inyo,” he added.
(I am not a politician. But to the best of my abilities, I will be of service to you)
The Philippine Army, Coast Guard and Philippine National Police were also hands-on in assisting the senator and the government agencies while providing aid to the fire victims. Private groups, such as the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, were also present to support.
Read more: 4 barangays razed in Jolo fire