SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go continues to push forward measures to strengthen the government’s ability to respond to fire emergencies while he also exerts efforts to support the recovery of fire-hit communities. He provided aid in Tondo, Manila during a visit on Tuesday, June 15, to families affected by a fire which erupted at the Delpan Wharf three days earlier.
“Alam natin kung gaano kapanganib ang sunog kaya nag-file ako ng batas sa Senado para ma-modernize ang Bureau of Fire Protection at magkaroon tayo ng mga kampanya para paalalahanan kayo paano maiwasan ang ganitong trahedya,” Go said, emphasizing the need to intensify fire prevention education awareness campaigns.
“Tandaan natin na sa bawat bahay na nasusunog, damay ang kapitbahay. Kaya mag-ingat tayo parati at pangalagaan natin ang buhay ng bawat tao,” Go told the survivors.
To address their immediate emergency needs, his office organized an activity at the Jose Abad Santos High School in coordination with the concerned national agencies. The Senator and his personnel distributed meals, financial assistance, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 200 families.
They provided selected recipients new pairs of shoes while others were given bicycles, a convenient mode of transportation amid the pandemic. Some also received computer tablets so their children can access their educational materials under the blended learning set-up.
Furthermore, a team from the Department of Social Welfare and Development distributed separate financial assistance. The Department of Health handed out medicine packs and vitamins while the Presidential Communications Operations Office gave away hygiene kits.
The Department of Agriculture, in turn, sent supplies of fresh vegetables. In addition, the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, and National Housing Authority held assessments for their respective assistance programs.
With the aim to better respond to emergencies as well as reduce fire incidents, injuries and the loss of life, Go principally authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1832 which mandates the BFP to implement a comprehensive modernization program and strengthen capacity-building efforts.
The measure provides for the acquisition of new fire equipment, hiring of additional personnel and provision of specialized training for firefighters. It also directs the BFP to conduct monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and local government units.
“Inaasahan ko na maipapasa na ito sa pagbubukas ng Kongreso ngayong July at mapirmahan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte by August. Sabi ko nga, dapat pinasa na ito nung nakaraang araw pero may mga ayaw sa probisyon na gagawa ng security unit,” continued Go.
“Tandaan natin na dapat protektado rin ang mga bumbero. Kapag may sunog, nandiyan ang mga nag-aamok, nagnanakaw at ‘yung mga nananamantala. Kaya dapat may security unit na magse-secure sa mga bumbero at area ng sunog. ‘Yun ang pinagdedebatehan ngayon. Nanawagan ako sa mga kapwa mambabatas ko na bilisan na ito, ‘wag na tagalan at ipagkait kung ano ang due sa mga bumbero,” he appealed.
The Senator went to remind the affected families to take care of themselves and look out for one another while staying in their evacuation centers and temporary shelters.
He urged them to follow the health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to get vaccinated as soon as their turn comes in accordance with the prioritization order of sectors.
“Kung gusto niyong makalabas at makabalik sa normal niyong pamumuhay, magtiwala kayo sa bakuna. Kapag bakunado kayo, protektado kayo,” explained Go.
“Kita niyo si Pangulong Duterte, 76 years old na at nagpabakuna siya. Kaya mga kababayan, sa mga economic frontliners o ‘yung araw-araw nagtratrabaho para sa kanilang pamilya, magpabakuna na kayo,” he added.
As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go offered to help residents in need of medical care. He advised them to seek government aid at any of the 119 Malasakit Centers nationwide particularly those located at the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital or Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center.
The center is a one-stop shop for the medical assistance programs offered by the national government, specifically the DOH, DSWD, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The program was institutionalized through the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 which Go primarily authored and sponsored.
“Sobra, wala akong masabi sa biyaya na pinagkaloob sa amin. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Senator Bong Go para sa ibinigay na tulong. Sana ‘wag siya magbabago at lagi siya nandiyan para sa mga gaya namin. Nakikita ko lang siya sa telebisyon. Hindi ko ma-imagine na makikita ko siya at mapapansin niya ako. Tinanong niya kung ano ang hiling ko at sabi niya tutulungan niya ang aking ama na na-stroke,” said Monica Cezar, 26, a beneficiary.
Concluding his message, the Senator expressed his gratitude to various officials for their quick response and efforts to assist the survivors, namely Mayor Francisco Domagoso, Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, 275 Punong Barangay Peddy Cinco, 286 Punong Barangay Alberto Loresto, and Manila Police District Brig. Gen. Leo Francisco.
He also thanked 275 Kagawads Jose Malabarbas, Arnel Narito, Mario Masangcay, Bernadro Narito, Anthony Infante, and Juan Chito Salvador; and 286 Kagawads Jet Geronimo, Bernardita Cabuenas, Albert Cantonas, Mila Guimbo, Dennis Dela Cruz, Jan Elago, and Hamig Salambat, among others.
To help the city and protect its people, Go supported the funding for the construction of evacuation centers and structural improvement of public buildings near the Department of Justice compound, as well as the construction of various multi-purpose buildings throughout Manila.
On June 5, Go’s team also carried out an activity to assist the remaining survivors of a fire incident in South Harbor, Manila. Each activity was held in small batches to ensure the necessary health and safety protocols against COVID-19 were observed.