AS he continues to push for measures to build safer and more resilient communities, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go also continues to respond to the immediate needs of communities affected by natural calamities and other crisis situations to help them recover and build back better.
Go visited thousands of Taal evacuees in Laurel, Batangas on Tuesday, July 13 to provide them immediate help, listen to their concerns, and offer solutions to their daily struggles.
“Mga kababayan ko, alam kong mahirap ang panahon ngayon. Nandito pa tayo sa gitna ng pandemya, tinamaan pa tayo ng nag-aalborotong Taal. Magtulungan lang po tayo,” Go said.
Go, together with concerned agencies, conducted the relief operation at the Laurel Municipal Hall for 1,004 beneficiaries who received grocery packs, meals, masks, face shields, and vitamins from the Senator’s team.
New pairs of shoes and bicycles were also given to select recipients. He also provided computer tablets to some beneficiaries to help their children pursue their education amid the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided each beneficiary with financial assistance while the Department of Health supplied them with more medicines and vitamins.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), then, handed out various farm inputs and produce. DA has also committed to help livestock owners in evacuating animals to temporary shelters and supply them with animal feeds.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) conducted an on-site assessment where qualified recipients will be given livelihood support. Additionally, the Jaime Ongpin Foundation gave more grocery packs.
A mother of ten children and a fisher, Martha Endoso shared how the Taal Volcano eruption greatly affected their way of life. Despite the distress that she and her family continue to experience, Endoso further expressed her optimism that they will recover soon.
“Senador Bong Go, ako ay nagpapasalamat sa inyo ng maraming-marami at maraming tao kayong natutulungan dito sa aming lugar. Salamat ng maraming marami sa inyo at sana ho ay huwag kayong makakalimot sa amin,” Endoso said.
“Sa aming mga may pagdadaanan pa ay huwag kayong mananawa na tumulong sa aming lahat. Maliit o malaki ay inyong tinutulungan, kaya maraming maraming salamat sa inyo,” Endoso added.
Continuing his message, Go expressed the vulnerability of the country when it comes to natural disasters as he reiterated the importance of establishing a department for disaster resilience. Senate Bill No. 205 was filed by Go in 2019 and seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience that would be primarily responsible for ensuring that local communities are well-adapted, resilient and safe from the impacts of climate change.
Under the proposed measure, the establishment of DDR will unify and streamline all responsibilities related to disaster preparedness and response, functions that are presently scattered across various departments and offices.
The DDR bill was mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his past State of the Nation Address as one of the priority measures of the administration.
“Ako po ay hindi titigil at hindi mawawalan ng pag-asa. Isa po sa na-file ko sa Senado ang Department of Disaster Resilience (bill) kasi kailangan po nating i-scale up po ang preparedness to resilience. So ibig sabihin, hindi lang nakahanda, talagang kaya na natin makatayo muli kapag tinamaan tayo ng bagyo o pagputok ng bulkan o earthquake,” said Go in an interview.
“Ang gusto po mangyari ng departamentong ito bago pa po dumating ang bagyo o ‘yung pagputok ng bulkan, meron na pong secretary-level na makikipag coordinate po sa local governments. Kung meron pong departamentong nakatutok po sa kanila, ito na po ‘yung makikipag-coordinate,” he added.
Go, then, urged residents to cooperate with authorities to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go encouraged them to take part in the vaccination program to hasten the country’s return to normalcy.
“Nakikiusap po ako sa mga kababayan kong Batangueño na magtiwala po kayo sa bakuna. Nakikita ko po kanina na marami pa pong takot magpabakuna, kaya andito po ako to encourage them na ang bakuna po ang tanging susi o solusyon para unti-unti na tayong bumalik sa normal na pamumuhay,” expressed Go.
“Natutuwa naman po ako na dumadami na po ang gustong magpabakuna kaya po hinihikayat ko ang ating mga local governments na i-deploy kaagad ang bakuna. Kapag dumating ang bakuna, iturok kaagad at huwag na patagalin,” he added.
In addition, the Senator offered assistance to those with health concerns as he encouraged them to visit the nearest Malasakit Centers at Batangas Provincial Hospital in Lemery, or at Batangas Medical Center in Batangas City.
“Ngayon, kung hindi kayang operahan dito sa Batangas, magsabi lang po kayo. Huwag ho kayong mag-atubiling magpa-hospital. Huwag n’yo na pong alalahanin ang inyong babayaran… tutulong po kami,” Go expressed.
To further accelerate the economic progress of the municipality, Go, as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, helped in pushing for the improvement of roads in Brgy. Balakilong.
He also extended his support for other projects in the province, including the construction of multi-purpose buildings and rehabilitation of roads in Agoncillo, Balayan, Batangas City, Bauan, Calaca, Ibaan, Lipa City, Mabini, Mataas na Kahoy, Nasugbu, San Juan, San Luis, San Nicolas, Santo Tomas, Taal, and Tuy; construction of potable water system in Balete; improvement of public market in Cuenca; acquisition of one ambulance unit in Ibaan; rehabilitation of flood mitigation structures in Batangas City, Lobo, and San Juan; and improvement of public parks and plazas in San Nicolas, among others.
Go commended local officials who continue to extend their immeasurable service to their community amid the national health crisis. Among the officials were Representative Ma. Theresa “Maitet” Collantes, Governor Hermilando “Dodo” Mandanas, Mayor Joan Amo, Vice Mayor Rachelle Ogalinola, and many others.
“Kami po ni Pangulong Duterte ay patuloy ho kaming magserserbisyo po sa inyo, beinte cuatro oras po ‘yan. Maraming salamat, mga Batangueño. Mahal na mahal po namin kayo,” Go said.
“Batangueno rin po ako… kahit na lumaki kami sa Davao, ang lolo’t lola ko ay dito lang sa Sto. Tomas at tsaka sa Tanauan kaya magkapitbahay lang po tayo. Lapitan niyo lang ako dahil patuloy akong magseserbisyo sa kapwa kong Pilipino. Hindi namin kayo pababayaan mga kapwa kong Batangueno,” he added.
In 2019, Go was declared an adopted son of the CALABARZON region in a manifesto issued by the governors of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.