We need these departments

"Recent events have highlighted their importance."


Two events of national significants occurred lately. They highlight the need to create two more departments in the Executive: The Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Department of Disaster Resilience.

With the Middle East fast becoming a flashpoint where wars have become normal, over two million overseas Filipino workers are in constant danger.

I am not talking here of events like what have been happening to our OFWs—one was killed and put into a freezer; another was sexually abused and beaten black and blue. Instead, I am talking about the possibility of World War III, a nuclear war. Our OFWs would be in grave danger!

This demands the immediate creation of a Department of OFWs so that government can focus on problems faced by our migrant workers. They deserve no less, given their sacrifices and their contribution to the economy.

Another department that is urgently needed is the Department of Disaster Resilience. In so many columns, I have lamented the failure of Congress to enact a law creating an agency focusing on disaster resiliency. This, despite the fact that the Philippines experiences numerous calamities.

It's lamentable that while the House of Representatives has passed the bill the creation of this department, as diligently co-authored and pushed by Tingog Representative Yedda Romualdez, the Senate has failed to have a counterpart law. Now there is no reason why it should not pass. What is happening with Taal Volcano reminds us of the urgency of this law.

If there is anything that Congress should prioritize when it reconvenes, it is this.

Yes, there are government agencies that protect OFWs. But these are not enough.

With regard to disasters, there is also the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, which has since been devolved. But these are mere ad hoc agencies.

We can only hope that a devastating, explosive eruption does not occur.

I have read and heard so much in the past that towns around the rim of Taal Lake are actually part of the danger zone.

Speaking of Tagaytay City, which we all know as a tourist destination, I wonder of it will ever fully recover. If the volcanic ashes are not removed immediately, they could become as hard as cement, like what happened after the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

My gulay, I cannot imagine how the investors of restaurants, condominiums and resorts are now feeling. My wife and I also have invested in a condominium unit—GMA7's Montaire—at the rim of the lake.

For the record, that condominium unit was the payment for my wife's decorative effort on Nards Jimenez's residence in Dasmariñas Village, with an additional P500,000 for a parking lot. We were planning to sell it, but now I doubt if we ever can. I empathize with those who have invested in Tagaytay City!

Insofar as all the evacuees are concerned, I wonder if they can really return to their homes, and live a normal life, anytime soon. At evacuation centers, they are already facing lack of food and water. I cannot imagine how they are coping with the poor sanitation.

And what about American aid? I recall that the Americans were quick to help when “Yolanda” devastated Leyte and environs. Where are the Americans now?

* * *

I must apologize to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

In earlier columns, I have criticized him for always being with President Duterte despite the fact that he is already a senator.

But now his dedication and commitment to the poor are showing. He is there for the needy.

Santa Banana, Bong Go has already opened his 58th Malasakit Center. Can any other senator claim to do what the senator is doing?

He is pushing for a bill to have all hospitals, private and public, add beds in the ward section so more indigents can be served.

If the opposition senators can duplicate what Bong Go is doing, the poor and the needy will love them.

My gulay, Bong Go is fast becoming my idea of a politician who puts the needs of the poor above himself.

If he does not mind, I would also like to suggest that he push for the creation of special courts to try cases involving illegal drugs. I recall that the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos created special courts to try those arrested for involvement in illegal drugs.

Go should also push for the creation of community-based rehabilitation centers.

I myself was involved in drug rehabilitation in the 1970s when I was with the DARE Foundation. Drug addicts need to be surrounded by their families so they could become productive citizens again.

Topics: Department of Overseas Filipino Workers , Department of Disaster Resilience , Christopher Bong Go , 58th Malasakit Center , Rodrigo Duterte , Yedda Romualdez
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