Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated his call for the establishment of a Department of Disaster Resilience, saying having an agency in charge of recovery from natural calamities will be key in restoring economic activity in areas frequently ravaged by disasters.
“Hindi tayo pwedeng laging react lang ng react, dapat pro-active tayo. Kailangan na talaga natin ng isang Department of Disaster Resilience na tututok sa rehabilitation,” Cayetano said in a statement.
(We shouldn’t get used to just responding to disasters, we should instead be pro-active. We really need a Department of Disaster Resilience to take charge of rehabilitation.)
“We have to have an agency that will manage the economic recovery of places hard-hit by disasters,” he added.
The lawmaker said this as his signature financial aid program for microenterprises, Sari-saring Pag-asa, gave P3,500 cash grants on Saturday to 20 small business owners as well as food packs to a number of families in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental who were hit hard by typhoon Odette last December.
Sari-saring Pag-asa also gave cash aid to around 100 microentrepreneurs in Taysan, Batangas, one of the towns in the province still reeling from the double-whammy of pandemic restrictions and the eruptions of Taal Volcano in 2020 and 2021.
The establishment of an executive department dedicated to disaster response and rehabilitation has been a long-standing legislative advocacy of Cayetano. As a Senator in 2013, he filed a bill seeking to form the Emergency Response Department in the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda.
In September 2020, the House of Representatives under Cayetano’s leadership passed House Bill 5989 which proposes the establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience to centralize and oversee the government’s disaster response system.
A similar measure is still pending in the Senate, however.
The long work of rehabilitation is still top of mind for Kabankalan City Mayor Pedro Zayco Jr., who thanked the former Speaker for bringing Sari-saring Pag-asa to their typhoon-hit city.
“Mula sa puso ng Kabankalan, kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa mga food packs at assistance sa mga may-ari ng sari-sari stores na nasalanta ng Bagyong Odette,” Zayco said.
“Ang programa ninyong Sari-saring Pag-asa ay nagbigay inspirasyon para sa pagsisimula uli ng aming bayan,” he added.
(From us here in Kabankalan, our heartfelt gratitude for the food packs and assistance to our sari-sari store owners who were affected by Typhoon Odette. Your program, Sari-saring Pag-asa has inspired us to rebuild our town in earnest.)
Taysan, Batangas municipal administrator Elizabeth Gutierrez likewise thanked Cayetano for bringing financial aid to small business owners in their area.
“Maraming-maraming salamat sa atin pong Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, sa lahat po ng staff ay nagpakaabala pa po na tayo’y dalawin at ibaba po itong payout para sa ating mga vendors,” Gutierrez said.
(Many, many thanks to our Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and to his staff who have come all the way to our town to give this payout to our vendors.)
Sari-saring Pag-asa has provided cash grants to a running total of 16,099 small business owners across the country as of January 15.
Ayuda pays off
Saturday’s Sari-saring Pag-asa episode, aired over former House Speaker Cayetano’s official Facebook page, featured one such beneficiary, sari-sari store owner Gildo Carapatan of Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Carapatan used the P3,500 cash grant he received to restock his store, something he found increasingly difficult to do amid diminished sales during the pandemic, as well as to buy maintenance medicines for his wife.
This move has since paid dividends for Carapatan, who has seen his gross sales pick up significantly and his profit margins double since restocking his store using his Sari-saring Pag-asa grant.
“Unang-una po, nagpapasalamat po ako siyempre unang-una sa Panginoon, pangalawa po kay Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, sa Sari-Saring Pag-asa, at ganoon din po sa mga staff niya,” Carapatan said.
(First of all, I thank God, and secondly, I thank Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for his program Sari-saring Pag-asa, as well as his staff.)