Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday said he supports the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DRR) 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. I think it’s necessary because we know that within a year there will be a typhoon, the only question is – when? Where the storm will hit? But definitely because the geographical location of our country historically always has typhoons,” Moreno said in an ambush interview following his courtesy call to Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas Jr.
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.
Moreno 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.
“I think when the areas that are always stormed, like Samar, Leyte recently happened really badly and were repeatedly stormed. I think we must build facilities to safeguard every life that we can save ahead of the disaster. So, acquiring more technology and building more facilities or ‘permanent ones like what we do in Manila, 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.
“It means rock, high, strong. Whatever the storm, every family living there is safe, then we have to secure those in the danger zone. You can’t blame our compatriots to continue living in dilapidated houses due to hardship of life, of course, even though they know that there is a danger that they will carry it. So, 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.
“Hopefully, nothing more. That means you no longer need it. But, given a chance. Why not? What happened to Odette in Surigao and other islands can also happen to Metro Manila. Remember when Ondoy, we were caught unaware. The magnitude of the destruction of Ondoy in the whole of Metro Manila,” Moreno said.
“So, we will never know when we will need help. But we are happy to be a part of alleviating the suffering of our fellow countrymen. At the end of the day, we are a boat. No one cares about fellow Filipinos but us fellow Filipinos,” 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.
“And I’m happy now and gradually recovering and what matters most to me is that we can move on in life, with the amount of human problems really. That’s why I’m always thinking about how you can work, how you can get a job, survive, recover because life is really getting harder and harder now. But for now, many many thanks, to the mayor, to the city government, and the people of Surigao City,” Moreno said.
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 Agend