Bong Go

Bong Go renews call for passage of bill on mandatory evacuation centers across PH

December 30, 2021 People's Journal 392 views

FOLLOWING the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go renewed his call for the mandatory creation of safe and properly equipped evacuation centers in every municipality, city and province across the Philippines.

On Tuesday, December 28, Go stressed anew the urgent need to act on disaster resilience measures such as his Senate Bill No. 1228 or the “Mandatory Evacuation Center Act”, which he filed in 2019 to ensure that victims of disasters will have temporary shelters that will guarantee their safety, promote their social well-being, and guard their welfare while they recover and rebuild their lives.

“When disaster strikes, the Filipinos, especially ‘yung mga underprivileged, suffer. In most instances, this disaster renders their homes unlivable, leaving the victims without roofs. Ibig sabihin nasisira ang mga bahay, marami pong apektado,” Go said.

“Minsan po, ‘di nagagamit ang mga paaralan kapag ginagamit ang mga eskwelahan (bilang evacuation centers)… Kaya panahon na po magkaroon tayo ng evacuation center sa bawat bayan,” he stressed.

As of December 28, a total of 1,290 schools or 7,489 classrooms are being used as evacuation centers in MIMAROPA, Regions 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and Caraga for the families affected by Odette, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The number of affected families has reached 1,082,910, which is equivalent to around 4,235,400 individuals from Visayas and Mindanao.

In previous interviews, Go—who often goes around the country to aid victims of natural and human-induced disasters—lamented that the victims are often temporarily relocated in barangay centers, schools, plazas, gymnasiums or basketball courts, which are not ideal as temporary shelters.

“Kailangang magpatayo tayo ng mga safe, permanent and dedicated evacuation centers na merong sapat na mga emergency packs, katulad ng blankets, tubig, gamot, flashlight at ready na relief goods,” he earlier noted.

“Obligasyon ng gobyerno na palaging maging handa na tumulong sa oras ng sakuna,” he stressed.

The bill also provides for the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities and accessibility, operation and management, among others.

Under the measure, the NDRRMC or its successor will act as the lead agency to oversee the implementation of the act should it be passed into law.

SBN 1228 is currently pending in the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, along with SBN 205, which Go also filed in 2019 for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

If created, the DDR shall serve as the lead agency for all disaster preparedness, mitigation and management activities. The lawmaker explained that consolidating all the disaster-related functions into the DDR would allow for a more concerted approach toward disaster risk reduction and quicker and more efficient delivery of services during times of crises.

To fast-track the affected families’ recovery, Go also principally authored and co-sponsored SBN 2393, otherwise known as the “Rental Housing Subsidy Act of 2021” to provide Filipinos a way to have their own homes, especially those who were displaced by natural and man-made disasters.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, Go reiterated that it is even more imperative to pass the said bills sooner as the government needs to be more proactive in responding to calamities and natural disasters.

“Talagang napapanahon na. ‘Yun po ang aking isinusulong na dapat maipasa na po ito. At huwag na natin hintayin na panibagong bagyo at lindol,” he ended.