1,500 families receive relief aid from Poe

AT least 1,500 families or 9,000 persons severely affected by typhoons that hit Bicol had received last week relief goods from Sen. Grace Poe – Llamasares and her partner Panday Bayanihan, a non-government organization (NGO) put up in 2013 to help victims of Typhoon Maring.

The recipients were victims of Typhoons “Quinta,” “Rolly” and “Ulysses” in Baras, Catanduanes; San Fernando, Camarines Sur; and Legazpi City, Albay.Each relief pack contains five kilos of rice, four pieces of noodles, four sachets of instant coffee, three cans of corned beef, and three cans of meatloaf that was handed to the recipients by volunteers from the office of Sen. Poe.

“We need to extend as much help as we can now because this is the most critical time for survivors of the calamity. Every donation that reaches them sends the message that they have not been forgotten and that help is on its way,” Poe said in a statement.

The donations were made through Panday Bayanihan, a non-government organization established in 2013 when Typhoon Maring affected 2.5 million people and displaced 800,000 residents.

“Rebuilding and recovering is no longer enough, we need to be resilient. This will not be the last nor the worst calamity that would sweep its way through the country,” said Poe.

“So, we have to work on becoming more prepared by taking a long-term approach and building communities that are more resilient to the effects of climate change,” Poe added.

The lady senator has recently filed Senate Bill No.124 or the proposed “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System Act” that enables local government units to go beyond recovery and build communities that are resilient to calamities.

If passed into law, a department secretary would be appointed to the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Assistance and Management to ensure greater accountability.

“Previously, there were already calls to action, proposed initiatives and legislations that sought to help us prepare for the effects of climate change,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services.

“Today, we consider them our ‘what if’. I hope that this doesn’t become another ‘what if’ when the next calamity strikes,” Poe said.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda is the principal author of the bill in the House of Representative that would create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DRR)

Salceda said the DDR shall be the primary government agency responsible 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.”

Sen. Miguel Zubiri, who also distributed sacks of rice in Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes last Nov.15, said that the one that would head DRR must have a rank of a cabinet secretary or undersecretary.

“Because if the rank of the DRR head is merely that of an assistant secretary, then how could he/she order officials of other government agencies that possess a secretary level rank,” Zubiri, whose mother is a Bicolana, stressed out.

Zubiri said he is in favor of the creation of DRR.