SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go urged national government agencies, particularly the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Agriculture, to collectively develop an integrated, convergent and coordinated mechanism to provide a holistic response to address the immediate needs of Filipinos in crisis situations.
Go stressed that aside from allocating sufficient resources, it is also equally important that concerned agencies work together as one in order to ensure the timely, efficient and responsive delivery of government assistance to those in need during times of crises and unforeseen circumstances.
“Kaya nga po tinawag na ‘bayanihan’. Hindi lang tayo dapat nagbibigay ng tulong. Dapat sinisigurado rin natin na ginagawa ito sa paraan na walang nasasayang na effort, pondo o oras,” he explained.
“Iisang gobyerno lang tayo kung kaya’t dapat nagkakaisa ang galaw natin para mas maging mabilis, maayos at maaasahan ang serbisyo natin sa tao, lalo na sa panahon na nangangailangan sila,” he added.
The senator made an appeal to the agencies to create a technical working group that could study how existing efforts and processes may be further enhanced with regard to the efficient delivery of aid and critical services during times of natural disasters and crisis situations.
He pointed out that a better system for sharing information is needed in order to improve coordination. By doing so, Go highlighted that government can deliver services to affected communities quicker, which in turn enables them to recover faster.
“Kailangan na masiguro na mabilis ang pagbibigay ng mga ayuda dahil hindi na kalat-kalat ang mga impormasyon, katulad sa nangyari noong unang batch ng Social Amelioration Program,” he said.
During the initial implementation of SAP at the height of the enhanced community quarantine, a significant number of supposed beneficiaries complained about not receiving said assistance. One of the causes cited is the absence of an updated database. Eventually, the labor and social welfare departments, two of the leading agencies involved in giving emergency assistance then, agreed on an information sharing scheme.
The senator expressed confidence that the creation of an inter-agency and inter-level working mechanism would likewise help government to quickly identify the appropriate forms of aid or services needed by a particular individual or community.
“This would lead to better decision making and execution as well as less wastage of valuable government resources. Mas magiging akma o angkop rin ang mga tulong na ibibigay ng gobyerno dahil alam na natin kung ano ang mga specific na pangangailangan ng mga apektadong tao o komunidad,” he explained further.
To institutionalize this and further enhance government’s efforts in preparing and responding to crisis situations, particularly caused by natural disasters, Go is pushing for the passage of his proposed measure, Senate Bill No. 205, also known as the Disaster Resilience Act of 2019, which seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience.
The proposed department, if created, shall unify and streamline all responsibilities related to disaster preparedness and response that are scattered across various departments and offices. It will focus on three key areas: (1) disaster risk reduction, (2) disaster preparedness and response, and (3) recovery and building forward better.
Specifically, the bill aims to create a new department which shall lead, initiate and integrate the development and execution of comprehensive strategic plans, programs, projects and activities that reduce the risk of natural hazards and effects of climate change as well as manage the impact of disasters while in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders at the national and local levels.
Furthermore, it will manage and direct the implementation of all national, local and community-based disaster resilience programs in collaboration with relevant national government agencies, local operating units, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.
“Napapanahon na din na talagang magkaroon ng sariling departamento na nakatutok talaga at may Secretary-level na timon o overall in-charge tuwing may krisis o sakuna,” Go previously said.
“Kung maitatag ang Department of Disaster Resilience, tunay na magiging laging handa tayo sa anumang krisis o sakuna — mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan, mas maiibsan ang masamang epekto ng kalamidad at mas mabilis makakabangon ang ating mga kababayan,” he added.