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Mayor Isko Favors Creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience

SURIGAO CITY – Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday said he supports the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) as a centralized government agency that will make disaster preparedness more comprehensive, responsive, and customized based on technical and scientific research and analysis.

“Yes, why not? If there’s a need to strengthen our capabilities ahead of time, why not? I will support it. Sa tingin ko kailangan na rin dahil alam naman natin na sa loob ng isang taon may bagyong darating ang tanong lang – kailan? Saan tatama? Pero tiyak na because the geographical location of our country historically laging may bagyo,” Moreno said in an ambush interview following his courtesy call to Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas Jr.

“Tapos ang masakit pa doon minsan may lindol, minsan naman meron pang pagputok ng bulkan. So, these are the things that may at least kailangan na sigurong maging department para wala nang gagawin ‘yon kundi maghanda, maghanda, at maghanda. Daig ng maagap ang masipag,” Moreno told reporters.

The House of Representatives approved the proposed DDR in September 2020, which was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priority measures. Under the bill, DDR will be the primary agency “responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate and build forward better after the destruction.” The Senate has yet to act on the bill.

The 47-year-old presidential candidate said a government under his watch will also prioritize the building of disaster-resilient mass housing projects as well as evacuation centers to ensure the safety of displaced residents especially in typhoon-prone provinces.

“Sa tingin ko, pag ‘yung mga areas na laging binabagyo, like Samar, Leyte recently talagang grabe nangyari at paulit-ulit na binabagyo. I think we must build facilities to safeguard every life that we can save ahead of the disaster. So, acquiring more technology and guilding more facilities or ‘yung permanent na katulad yung ginagawa namin sa Maynila, yung Tondominium 1, Tondominium 2, Binondominium 1 so in-city vertical housing,” Moreno pointed out.

Surigao del Norte was one of the provinces in the Caraga Region (Region XIII) severely affected by Typhoon “Odette” when it slammed the southern part of the country in December 2021. The region is composed of five provinces namely, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands. Caraga has six cities: Butuan, being the regional center, Cabadbaran, Surigao, Tandag, Bislig and Bayugan. It also has 67 municipalities and 1,311 barangays.

“Ibig sabihin bato, mataas, matibay. Ano mang unos kahit papaano ligtas ‘yung bawat pamilyang naninirahan doon, tapos para naman i-secure na natin ‘yung nasa danger zone. Hindi mo naman masisisi ‘yung mga kababayan natin na mag turok nang magturok ng poste ng bahay nila sa hirap ng buhay syempre kahit na alam nila na may panganib susuungin nila ‘yon. Kaya, I think it’s high time to build such a facility,” Moreno explained.

Moreno said he is hopeful that Surigao del Norte and other provinces in the south will eventually be spared from powerful typhoons and in case the need arises, the national government under his administration is is ready to provide a helping hand.

“Sana, wala nang dagdag. Ibig sabihin hindi na kayo nangangailangan. But, given a chance. Why not? ‘Yung nangyari sa Odette sa Surigao at iba pang isla can happen also to Metro Manila. Remember nung nagka-Ondoy, we were caught unaware. Ang laki talaga ng destruction ng Ondoy sa buong Metro Manila,” Moreno said.

“So, we will never know kung kailan namin kakailanganin ang tulong. Pero masaya kami na maging bahagi na maibsan ‘yung dinaranas ng iba nating kabababayan. At the end of the day isang bangka tayo. Wala namang magmamalasakit sa kapwa Pilipino kundi tayo ring kapwa Pilipino,” he said.

During his courtesy call, Moreno thanked Mayor Matugas for the recognition bestowed to the City of Manila and the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) for their relief efforts days after Odette struck the province. The Manila city mayor was also happy to learn that Surigao City has been gradually recovering from the effects of the powerful typhoon.

“From the airport pa lang through our motorcade, kahit na maagang-maaga ‘yung motorcade very warm ‘yung reception ng tao. And nagpapasalamat din ako kay mayor. You know na-appreciate nila ‘yung maliit naming tulong noong panahon ng Odette, very timely and I was surprised kahit ilang buwan na ang nakakaraan naalala pa rin ni mayor so masaya ako na iuuwi ‘yung pagkilala ibinigay sa ating MDRRMO at City of Manila ng Surigao City sa nangyaring Odette,” Moreno said.

Moreno added: “And I’m happy now at unti-unting nakaka-recover and what matters most to me maka-move on tayo sa buhay, sa dami ng problema ng tao talaga. Ako, kaya ako lagi kong iniisip paano ka makapag-trabaho, paano ka makapag-hanapbuhay, makaraos, maka-recover kasi talagang pahirap nang pahirap na ang buhay ngayon. But for now, maraming maraming salamat, kay mayor, sa city government, and the people of Surigao City.”

Manila’s relief operation teams were dispatched late last year to evacuation sites in Surigao del Norte specifically those located in Surigao City, the Municipality of Sison and the island barangay of Socorro. The relief operations in the Caraga Region was coordinated by Val Lozada.

A Philippine Navy ship also travelled to Surigao del Norte where it brought Manila city government’s donated goods and other items consisting of 200 Temporary Shelter Partition Tents, more than 2,000 bottles of 350 ML bottled water, close to a hundred bottles of 6-liter water in containers, and 12 cases of Vitamin C supplement.

In Surigao City, food packs from the City of Manila were given to 72 families who temporarily stayed in Canlanipa Elementary School; 40 families in Mormons Narciso Street; 135 families at the Pilot Elementary School; 250 families in Gawad Kalinga in Barangay Luna; 148 families in CV Diez Elementary School; 256 families in Surigao City National High School and 80 families who were housed at the LTPC/Training Center also in Barangay Luna.

Moreno said if he wins the presidency, his administration will pursue a “Life and Livelihood” economic policy that aims to address poverty, hunger, unemployment, inequality and social injustice through an inclusive and equitable infrastructure development program as spelled out under his 10-point Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda. #