Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go today pushed for the passage of his mandatory evacuation bill as he lauded the call of President Duterte for the construction of permanent evacuation centers.

bong go 3 - Go pushing for mandatory evacuation bill
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President made the call as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) noted the lack of such infrastructure to shelter vulnerable Filipinos in times of calamities and natural disasters.

“It is high time that government consider … na (that) we build strong structures, stronger than a typhoon, para mapuntahan ng mga tao (where people can go to),” the President said during his Talk to the People Address on Tuesday, November 17 night.

Duterte wanted such evacuation facilities to be complete with amenities, saying “Maybe small rooms with many comfort rooms where people can really stay for a while.”

Go echoed the President’s call, saying that he is pursuing the construction of permanent evacuation centers through his proposed legislative measure filed in the Senate, recognizing that most evacuees stay in public schools that are not ideal alternatives for a disaster relief shelter.

“Kaisa po ako sa panawagan ng Pangulo na magkaroon ng permanent evacuation centers sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa. Nakita naman po natin ang matinding pangangailangan natin sa mga istrukturang ito na magsisilbing panandaliang tahanan ng mga Pilipino sa tuwing may bagyo o anumang natural disasters,” Go explained. (I am with the President in calling for the construction of evacuation centers in various parts of the country. We have seen the immediate need for such structures that would serve as temporary homes for Filipinos whenever typhoons and other calamities hit the country.)

Go renewed his call for the passage of his Senate Bill 1228 which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, municipality and province throughout the country.

While he noted that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has exerted efforts to build evacuation centers in every region, Go said that these need to be augmented further and enhanced to accommodate the needs and protect the lives of all evacuees during calamities.

“Dapat may komportableng higaan ang mga bata, hindi magkakasakit, may comfort room sila at may maayos na sanitation. Hindi lang dapat ito lugar na pansamantalang masisilungan, ito dapat ay lugar na mapoprotektahan sila, maaalagaan sila, at matutulungan silang makabangon muli,” he said. (There should be comfortable areas for the young to sleep, not contract diseases, there should be comfort rooms and the place must be clean. It should not only be for a temporary shelter. It should be one that would protect them, taken care of and allowed to eventually resume their daily lives.)

The bill also provides for the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities and accessibility, operation and management, among others. As for its appropriation, the construction and maintenance of evacuation centers under the measure will be sourced from a portion of the general appropriations for the DPWH.

As for victims currently staying in evacuation centers, Go reminded them and local officials to strictly observe and implement health protocols to avoid an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Kinausap ko din po si Health Secretary Francisco Duque nung pumunta kami sa Catanduanes dahil napansin ko po sa lahat ng ating evacuation centers, nagkakadikit ‘yung mga Pilipino. Hindi na po nasusunod ‘yung mga health protocols at social distancing. Kaya dapat merong health safety officer ang bawat evacuation center along with the local government units. Dapat maayos ‘yung coordination,” Go explained. (I have talked to Health Secretary Francisco Duque when we went to Catanduanes where I noticed that evacuees were too close to one another. Health protocols and social distancing are not being followed. There is a need for health safety officers, along with local government units (LGUs), in evacuation centers. There should be close coordination.)

Moreover, Go said that he is confident that the country would be able to overcome these challenges and ‘build back better’.

“Filipinos are known for their resilience and we have always been proud of that. But it is the government’s duty to ensure that communities are built to be more disaster-resilient to protect the lives of Filipinos,” he emphasized.

Go urged concerned agencies that are part of the recently created inter-agency task force to expedite rehabilitation of affected areas towards creating more disaster-resilient communities in the country.

“Dito papasok ang Task Force sa recovery and rehab. May klaro itong mandato at kapasidad upang maimplementa ang mga programa hanggang makabangon muli ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi ito titigil hanggang matapos ang trabaho,” he explained. (This is where the Task Force on recovery and rehabilitation comes in. It has a clear mandate and capacity to implement programs until our countrymen would be able to resume their regular activities. The Task Force will not stop until it has done its job.)

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