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On Good Friday, Bong Go joins PRRD in Leyte visit to aid communities hardest hit by Tropical Storm Agaton; assures full support towards recovery

PHILIPPINES, April 17 - Press Release April 16, 2022

On Good Friday, Bong Go joins PRRD in Leyte visit to aid communities hardest hit by Tropical Storm Agaton; assures full support towards recovery

President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher "Bong" Go on Good Friday, April 15, conducted an aerial inspection of Baybay City and Abuyog town in Leyte to survey the extent of damage caused by the massive flooding and landslides triggered by the Tropical Storm Agaton.

"Walang pinipiling araw ang pagseserbisyo sa kapwa lalo na ngayong Holy Week kung kailan kailangan ng tulong at malasakit ng mga kababayan nating tinamaan ng bagyo," Go said.

"Buong gobyerno sa pamumuno ni Pangulong Duterte ay nandito para gampanan ang kanilang tungkulin at siguraduhing makabangong muli ang mga nasalanta," he added.

Agaton made its first landfall in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on April 10. Since then, it has brought torrential rains to numerous parts of the country, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao, forcing inhabitants in low-lying areas to seek refuge in evacuation facilities while floods and landslides wreaked havoc in parts of Visayas and Mindanao. Particularly, the province of Leyte is the worst hit by Agaton, with landslides wiping out houses and devastating farming and fishing communities.

After the aerial inspection, Duterte and Go visited and extended help to the injured adults and children currently staying in the outpatient services of the Western Leyte Provincial Hospital in Baybay City. They also checked on the operations of the Malasakit Center in the hospital.

They then held a situational briefing with local officials in the city to assess the impact of the tropical storm and to determine the immediate needs of the affected residents.

The provincial police office of Leyte on Thursday night reported that the number of people killed in Abuyog town and Baybay City in Leyte as a result of flooding and landslides has risen to 147.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture reported that Agaton's cost of damage to agriculture has reached PhP639.7 million. High-value crops, corn, and rice are among the commodities that have been affected.

Following the briefing, Duterte and Go also led the distribution of assistance to the storm victims at the Baybay City Senior High School. During the activity, Go's office handed out meals, food packs, masks and vitamins to the affected residents.

"Ngayong Semana Santa, isama natin sa ating panalangin ang ating mga kababayang nangangailangan lalo na yung mga biktima ng krisis at sakuna. Tumulong at magserbisyo po tayo sa abot ng ating makakaya dahil ang serbisyo sa tao ay serbisyo sa Diyos," said Go.

Representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Office of Civil Defense separately distributed aid to the victims.

Go also urged the storm victims to seek medical assistance from any of the four Malasakit Centers in the province of Leyte including one in New Western Leyte Provincial Hospital in Baybay City which they visited.

The other Malasakit Centers are located at Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City; Leyte Provincial Hospital and Governor Benjamin T. Romualdez General Hospital in Palo; and Ormoc District Hospital in Ormoc.

Meanwhile, Go reiterated his call for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience to ensure quick response and proactive and holistic approach in preparing for calamities and other natural disasters.

Last 2019, Go filed Senate Bill No. 205, also known as the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019. The measure aims to address the bureaucratic challenges that undermine the government's ability to better respond and provide support to individuals affected by disasters. To do so, it establishes the Department of Disaster Resilience, a highly-specialized agency that will prepare against the devastating effects of climate change and ensure a more proactive approach to natural disasters.

If passed into law, the DDR will consolidate the essential functions of all disaster-related agencies into a single department. This allows for a more aggressive, concerted approach toward disaster risk reduction as well as the faster and more efficient delivery of services during crises and faster recovery and rehabilitation.

The senator also stressed the urgent need to act on disaster resilience measures such as his SB 1228 or the "Mandatory Evacuation Center Act", 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.

Both measures are currently pending in the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation.

Because of the country's vulnerability to natural disasters, Go said that passing these measures is even more critical, as the government must be more proactive in responding to such calamities.

"Talagang napapanahon na. 'Yun po ang aking isinusulong na dapat maipasa na po ito. At huwag na natin hintayin ang panibagong sakuna," he previously stressed.

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