Sen. Go backs NDRRMC on recommendation placing entire Luzon under sate of calamity

Published November 18, 2020, 9:38 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go today supported the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Luzon under a state of calamity.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (OFFICE OF SEN. BONG GO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Yes, ako pabor po ako d’yan. Mas mapapabilis ang rehabilitation efforts ng mga LGUs kapag isinailalim sa state of calamity and inaprubahan na po ng Pangulo [‘yung increase sa calamity fund] ng mga probinsya na tinamaan ng bagyo. Magbibigay po ng 1% of their IRA sa mga LGUs na tinamaan ng bagyo para magamit nila sa relief and rehabilitation,’’ Go said. (Yes, I am in favor of that. The rehabilitation efforts of the LGUs will be faster if they are placed under a state of calamity, and the President has already approved [the increase in calamity fund] of the provinces hit by the typhoon. 1% of their IRA will be given to the LGUs hit by the typhoon to be used for relief and rehabilitation.)

In an emergency meeting held last November 16, members of the NDRRMC approved the recommendation to declare a state of calamity in entire Luzon following the onslaught of typhoons ‘’Quinta’’, ‘’Rolly’’ and ‘’Ulysses’’ that displaced thousands and caused massive destruction.

If approved by the President, local government units will have more access to public funds to expedite relief and rehabilitation efforts in their respective areas.

Cognizant that calamity funds of local government units (LGUs) are now depleted because of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Go earlier appealed to the Executive department to replenish the calamity funds of affected LGUs with an amount equivalent to one percent of their respective Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

The budget department was reported expediting the release of the augmentation funds following Go’s appeal and subsequent directive from the President.

In an effort to further improve disaster mitigation measures of the government, Go also sought better coordination in various government levels in order to reduce damage following the massive flooding in Cagayan Valley.

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, said that the national government should remain in charge of managing dams, particularly during typhoons.

He, however, appealed for better coordination with concerned LGUs to be more proactive, such as in ordering preemptive evacuation.

“Unang una, dapat po ‘yan sa national pero in coordination po with LGUs, lalong lalo na po sa mga desisyon na pagpapakawala ng tubig (First of all, it is supposed to be under the national [government] but in coordination with LGUs, especially when it comes to the decision of releasing the water),” Go said.

“Sabi ng PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) ay 15 percent daw po ng dahilan ng pagbaha doon (sa Cagayan Valley) ay mula sa dam at 85% sa pagbuhos ng tubig sa bagyong dumaan,’’ he added. (According to PAGASA, the cause for the flooding there {in CagayanValley} was 15 percent from the dam and 85 percent from rainwater brought by the typhoon.)

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier said that the Cagayan River was already swollen caused by sustained and prolonged raining in Cagayan Valley as early as October when earlier storms hit the region.

Cagayan River is only one of the eighteen tributaries that feed the catch basin in the region. Other sources of water come from the Cordilleras and Sierra Madre mountain ranges. Strictly following its protocols, the National Irrigation Administration, the agency that manages the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System, was earlier reported that its team started opening the spill gates as early as November 9 in order to prevent overspilling that might unfortunately result to a more disastrous dam breakage.

Different communication tools were also used to disseminate information on the schedule of dam’s water releases. These included the television, radio, print, social media, emails, SMS and sirens.

“Anyway, ‘wag na po tayo magsisihan para sa susunod na pagpapakawala ng tubig ay magiging well-coordinated ito with local government units,’’ Go said. (Let’s stop blaming each other so in the next releasing of water, this will be well-coordinated with the local government units.)

“Sila po ang nakakaalam kung saan po ang safe na mga evacuation centers na dapat na paglalagyan ng mga evacuees o mga mamamayan nila sa lugar nila. Coordination po ang importante po ditto,’’ he added. (They’re the ones who know where the safe evacuation centers that will be used as temporary shelters for the resident-evacuees in their respective areas. Coordination is important here.)

Given the destructive effects of the recent natural calamities, Go was asked if he is in favor of increasing the national security level of the country’s anti-disaster and environmental measures.

`The Senator responded, saying that the protection and preservation of ecological balance is already one of the major national security interests of the Duterte Administration.

“Ang National Security Policy 2017 to 2022 ay hindi lamang limitado sa mga traditional security issues, like military conflicts, armed rebellion, malaking bahagi rito ay ang well-being ng bawat Pilipino. Kaya dahil po sa climate change ngayon, ay naging stronger, more frequent and more destructive na po ang mga bagyo, ‘no?’’ he asked. (The National Security Policy 2017 to 2022 is not only limited to traditional security issues, like military conflicts and armed rebellion. The well-being of every Filipino is crucial here. Due to climate change, typhoons are now becoming stronger, more frequent and more destructive, right?)

“Kasi nandito tayo, located tayo sa Pacific Ring of Fire. Galing sa Pacific Ocean ay dumadaan talaga sa Pilipinas (ang mga bagyo) kaya medyo delikado po ang ating kinatatayuan. Kita ninyo bago lang po, naglindol din sa Surigao, kahapon po. So, meron talagang climate change rin po, isa po ito sa priority natin,’’ he added. (We are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire. From the Pacific Ocean, typhoons pass by the Philippines putting us at risk. You have seen, just recently, an earth quake rocked Surigao. So climate change is also a major factor and it is one of of our priorities),” he added.

Go urged Filipinos to continue helping each other by exemplifying the bayanihan spirit so that the country can recover swiftly from the disasters.

“Sa mga kababayan ko, dalawang disaster po ang ating kinakaharap ngayon, ito pong COVID-19 pandemic, disaster po ‘yan. Itong bagyo na dumaan sa atin, disaster po ‘yan. Mag-ingat po tayo, magtulungan po tayo, magmalasakit po tayo sa kapwa natin Pilipino,’’ he added. (To my countrymen, we are now currently facing two disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic and the typhoons that hit us. Let’s be careful. Let’s help each other and be compassionate to your fellow Filipinos.)