MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Saturday vowed that budget will be released for public-safety projects on Siargao island, after journalist Karen Davila shared her son's surfing accident on social media.
In a statement, Alvarez said he is working with Surigao del Norte officials to "address the infrastructure problems" Davila cited on the tourist island such as the lack of first response to emergencies.
"It is unfortunate that broadcaster Karen Davila and her family had such traumatic experience in Siargao. But let me assure her and her family that the government is already addressing the lack of infrastructure in tourist destinations," he said.
"I will make sure that the budget is released for these projects."
In a tweet, Davila thanked Alvarez for his action and response to her Facebook post.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Davila raised the lack of lifeguards on the beach and of a nearby first aid clinic in the town of General Luna, where popular surf spots are located.
"No one was there to assist my husband or my son who was bleeding! No nurse, no first aid, NO ONE," she wrote.
"While there was a doctor and a nurse on duty, very helpful and attentive - there were no medicines. Foreigners were at the ER with us and I wondered, how do they attend to so many foreigners visiting the island with this set up?" she said.
Alvarez said tourist spots should have first-aid facilities and ambulances "on standby at all times."
He added that the local government and the Department of Tourism "should conduct regular inspections of the facilities of tourist destinations to ensure public safety at all times."
"Beach resorts should always have lifeguards on duty and surfing and diving instructors should have proper training and possess the requisite certification," he said.
This, after resort owners revealed that some surfing instructors were not certified to teach lessons.
Alvarez added that surfing sites should have adequate lighting at night to prevent accidents.
In a statement, Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas said she has ordered all town mayors to provide 24/7 medical assistance and ensure a sufficient supply of medicine through their rural health units.
She added that the local government has organized a rescue team placed on standby at the top tourist spots in the island, including the Cloud 9 surfing site in General Luna town.
"This team will be able to provide immediate medical response in emergency situations to augment/reinforce the existing health care personnel and doctors of the Rural Health Units in the locality," she said.
Davila also shared on Twitter a photo of the rescue team stationed at Cloud 9 and thanked the local government.
The governor also called on resort owners to place lifeguards, first aid facilities, and coordinate with government rescue teams in the event of emergencies.
"All tourists are also urged to help the local government in its effort to reduce waste generation in the island as mandated in . . . the Solid Waste Management Act and Regulating the Use of Plastic Cellophanes, Styrofoam and Plastic Bottles in the Province of Surigao del Norte," she said.