President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, February 23, visited Tandag City in Surigao del Sur after its communities were severely hit by the massive flooding caused by the heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Auring last Sunday.

During their visit, initial relief assistances were distributed to affected communities after they conducted an aerial inspection of the region and attended a situation briefing on the aftermath of the storm.

Go had earlier shared with the media about the said visit during an ambush interview after he personally visited and distributed assistance to 413 typhoon victims in Pulilan, Bulacan. “Pupuntahan po namin ni Pangulong Duterte mismo kung saan ang baha doon sa Tandag,” Go said.

“Magpapatawag po siya ng situation briefing at magbibigay po kami ng tulong sa mga kababayan natin. Magbibigay rin tayo ng solusyon sa mga problema nila at mag-iiwan ng ngiti sa panahon ng kanilang pagdadalamhati,” Go said.

During the situation briefing, Duterte instructed concerned agencies to immediately and holistically respond to the needs of affected communities. The President also stressed that he does not want local government officials to have to go to Metro Manila to personally do the follow-up.

Cabinet Secretaries were also asked to send respective representatives to Surigao del Sur within the week to assess the total damage of the typhoon and ensure that delivery of public services is unhampered. The Office of Civil Defense, as lead of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, will consolidate all actions to be taken by government agencies.

Moreover, the Department of Transportation committed to install runway lights after the construction and improvements of Tandag Airport while the Department of Public Works and Highways will coordinate with Surigao del Sur LGU regarding the needed equipment for the construction of barangay roads. The Philippine National Police also committed to ensure peace and order in the area as well as continuously address concerns of insurgencies.

Auring, the first storm in 2021, brought floodwaters in Surigao del Sur which inundated houses and communities, displacing almost 10,000 families or around 30,650 individuals, according to the provincial disaster response officials.

On February 22, Tandag City Mayor Roxanne Cabrera-Pimentel said that she would ask the city council to declare a state of calamity in the city following the disaster that caused PhP60 million worth of damage on the province’s rice farms alone.

In December last year, Surigao del Sur was also hit by Tropical Depression Vicky, causing heavy flooding and leaving three dead and two missing persons. In January, Go, during a series of aid distribution activities, extended various forms of aid to thousands of victims in the province as part of his commitment to continue helping communities affected by crises recover more quickly and build back better.

Go also 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. A second committee hearing had already been conducted by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security. The House of Representatives earlier passed its own counterpart last September of last year.

“Sa pagtatag ng departamentong ito, mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan at mas maiibsan ang masamang epekto ng mga kalamidad. Sa tulong nito, mas mabilis ding makakabangon ang ating mga kababayan pagkatapos ng mga sakuna,” he added.

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.

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