“Hindi niyo po kami kailangan pasalamatan. Parte po ito ng trabaho namin. Lagi po natin tandaan na obligasyon nating tulungan ang kapwa Pilipino. Sa panahong ito, dapat mas lumakas (pa) ang pagmamalasakit ng komunidad sa isa’t-isa.”
This was the statement given by former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, as he emphasized the need for a concerted effort to help fire victims and strengthen fire safety and prevention measures in the country.
On Sunday evening, the former SAP Bong Go visited Barangay Manresa in Quezon City, the site of the January 5, 2019 fire that destroyed at least 100 houses, left 300 families homeless, injured 5 people (4 residents and 1 volunteer), and caused property damage amounting to PHP 1 million.
Due to illegal power connections, the blaze razed Barangay Manresa quickly and caught locals off guard. According to Quezon City Fire Marshal Senior Superintendent Jaime Ramirez, the fire in Barangay Manresa began around 11:30 P.M. on Saturday evening and was put out about 3 A.M. on Sunday. The fire reached the 5th alarm status.
“Dapat mapalakas ang fire safety and prevention measures natin. Halos araw araw may nasusunugan kaya dapat pagtuunan ng pansin at maturuan lahat kung paano maiwasan ang ganitong mga aksidente,” he said.
A senatorial aspirant in the 2019 elections, Bong Go has always placed importance on fire safety and prevention because of the massive loss of lives, homes, and livelihood as well as the expensive property damage usually caused by fire incidents.
Due to this, Go prioritizes meeting with fire victims and survivors of other similar tragedies to extend assistance and see how safety and prevention measures can be improved.
“Isa po ito sa aking priority, legislative agenda kung sakaling papalarin ako: fire safety measures and prevention at papalakasin rin natin ang Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) natin para madaling masugpo at maiwasan ang mga sunog,” Go said in a previous interview.
In light of the fire incident, Bong Go also spoke to interviewers that particular properties should be converted to permanent and strategic evacuation centers so that government work and classes are not greatly affected.
“Alam niyo, mahirap, katulad nito, nagagamit ‘yung gym. Minsan, ‘yung eskwelahan. Naantala ‘yung mga pag-aaral ng mga bata kasi nagagamit ‘yung mga classroom as evacuation center. Ngayon, (mas OK po sana) kung mayroon tayong evacuation center na maayos, may CR, (para) kumportable hanggang makauwi sa kanilang pamamahay (‘yung mga evacuees). ‘Yun po ang aking priority, kung saka-sakali po (na palarin sa darating na eleksyon),” Go said to interviewers.
Residents of the area whose houses were burned down were forced to evacuate to Barangay Manresa’s basketball court, multipurpose hall, and barangay hall. According to Manresa Barangay Captain Arturo Tambis, the survivors badly need donations.
“Sa ngayon, mga pagkain muna, banig, tulugan, mga damit-damit diyan (ang kailangan ng mga nakaligtas sa sunog),” Tambis specified.
On January 6, 2019, Bong Go and his supporters entered the barangay to deliver needed aid, listen to the residents’ concern and gave comfort to survivors of the fire.
Go’s group went in the area and immediately distributed clothes, shoes, grocery items, food packs, ready to eat meals, and cash assistance to the many affected families.
“Sabi ko nga po, kahit saang sulok ng Pilipinas, kung kaya ng aking kakayahan, pupuntahan ko kaagad kayo, (may dalang) kaunting tulong at assistance, pagkain at groceries pack,” Go stated.
The former SAP also relayed that he will be contacting his former colleagues in the government to request additional assistance for the fire victims. “Papakiusapan ko po ‘yung mga kasamahan ko sa gobyerno tulad ng nasa NHA, DOH, DSWD, at PCSO,” Go guaranteed Manresa residents.
In addition, Bong Go will be donating uniforms so that students and employees who were affected by the fire could immediately go back to school and their offices respectively.
“Ako naman, sabi ko nga sa mga estudyante, para makapag-aral na sila agad, bibilhan namin po sila ng uniporme bukas; pati namamasukan sa trabaho na nasunog ‘yung mga gamit, (bibilhan din),” Go told interviewers.
During Bong Go’s visit to Manresa, he gave away his pair of basketball shoes to Reynaldo Ansino, a 27- year-old resident and survivor of Saturday’s fire. “Di ko akalain na darating siya at (ibibigay) itong sapatos na ‘to. Salamat, Bong Go,” Ansino said as he held the pair of sneakers from Go.
Bong Go stated that even though he currently is a private citizen, he would still be helping those in need and serve as their voice in raising their concerns to the President.
“Kahit di na ako SAP, patuloy pa rin ang pagiging tulay ko ninyo sa Pangulo. Nandito pa rin ako at handang tumulong sa inyo. Wala po kaming iba pang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kung di makatulong sa inyong lahat,” Go said to the victims.
Aside from giving away food and other items, Bong Go reminded the residents of Barangay Manresa that a Malasakit Center will be opened on Monday, January 7, 2019, at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) in Diliman, Quezon City that they could go to if they need medical assistance.
“It’s a one-stop shop po, itong Malasakit Center. Mayroon na po tayong 18 Malasakit Centers all over the country. Nandiyan (sa iisang kuwarto) ang DOH, DSWD, PAGCOR, PCSO, at PHILHEALTH,” Go informed residents.
Go plans to put the Malasakit Center program into legislation so that each province and urban center can have its own Malasakit Center to cater to the medical needs of locals in that area.
Aside from plans regarding the Malasakit Center, Bong Go has a legislative agenda which covers issues pertaining to agriculture, housing, long-term sports development, anti-corruption drive, anti-illegal drugs, and criminality drive, localized peace talks, creation of a Department of OFWs, and senior citizens.
The year may not have started on a good note for residents of Barangay Manresa in Quezon City but Bong Go assured them that he will be there to help and work to make things better for them.