Bulacan eyes more benefits for rescuers, keeps mining halt after Karding onslaught

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2022 05:38 PM | Updated as of Sep 30 2022 10:28 PM

Waist- to chest-deep floods inundate a residential area in Barangay Poblacion, San Miguel, Bulacan on Monday. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file
Waist- to chest-deep floods inundate a residential area in Barangay Poblacion, San Miguel, Bulacan on Monday. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MALOLOS, Bulacan (3rd UPDATE) — The Provincial Government of Bulacan is looking at additional benefits it could extend to rescue workers after Typhoon Karding killed 5 rescuers and a civilian earlier this week, the governor said Friday.

Officials are studying how the province can expand the incentives given to rescue workers, particularly the grant of insurance policies, Governor Daniel Fernando told reporters.

“Itong insurance na ito, dapat ito ay palawakin pa ito sa mga rescuer natin dahil sa panahon ng kalamidad, sila yung nandiyan nakaharap kaya sila yung mga frontliners diyan,” he said.

“Pag-aaralan pa ng Sanggunian. Magbababa tayo ng letter sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan na much more pag-aralan pa ano pa yung other benefits na maibibigay sa ating mga rescue workers natin,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, who also hails from Bulacan, said that a bill seeking to provide “hazard pay for government employees who are stationed or assigned to work as frontline workers during states of calamity or emergency” has already been filed in the Senate before the onslaught of Typhoon Karding.

“The proposed hazard pay is equivalent to 25 percent of their respective daily basic salary, regardless of their employment status,” Villanueva told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

“What happened with the 5 Bulacan rescuers should be an eye opener for us to ensure that our government workers who are in high-risk jobs are protected regardless of their employment status,” he said.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who visited the public funeral of the 5 Bulakenyo rescuers, said would “not hesitate to file one (bill)” if the proposal is “urgently needed.”

Estrada and Fernando gave families of the deceased rescuers financial aid, but both declined to disclose the amount of the assistance.

SUSPENSION ON MINING, QUARRYING

Bulacan will also keep its suspension on mining and quarrying activities in the region following the incident, the governor said.

Executive Order No. 21, signed in August 2022, temporarily bans mining and quarrying operations in Bulacan as the government tries to hound the illegal collection of mineral resources in the province.

“Panahon na upang pangalagaan at isalba ang ating kalikasan. That’s why by means of an executive order hindi na po tayo magpapa-quarrying at magpapa-mining ngayon,” he said in his eulogy for the Bulakenyo rescuers who died earlier this week.

“Sa ating lalawigan, hindi ko po papayagan… Kung sira ang Sierra Madre, malamang pumasok ng todo ang bagyo sa Bulacan,” he added.

Fernando earlier said that the province expects to incur at least P3 billion from agricultural damage alone.

The worst-hit areas are towns in the third district, particularly San Miguel, San Rafael, San Ildefonso and Doña Remedio Trinidad, he told ABS-CBN News hours after the typhoon left Bulacan.

“May matitigas pa rin ang ulo. Kumita lang ng pera kahit wasakin ang inang kalikasan… Huwag natin hayaang maraming buhay pa ang mawala bago tayo magising, bago tayo matuto, bago tayo kumilos,” Fernando said.

“Hindi muling sasapit ang madilim na yugtong ito sa ating lalawigan.”

The governor said he has yet to decide when to lift the suspension, noting that the province cannot impose a total ban on mining and quarrying.

“Hindi naman natin ito puwedeng i-total ban dahil alam naman natin na diyan kinukuha yung ginagamit sa development like sa infra,” he said.

“Bago ko po ito hindi na isuspend, titiyakin po muna natin na ang lahat ay nasa ayos, nare-regulate,” he said.

“Kailangan ma-regulate talaga. Responsible mining ang kailangan para po matiyak natin na magiging ligtas yung ating mga kababayan, ang ating kalikasan.”

Karding, which reached super typhoon category at its peak, has so far killed 12 nationwide while 6 people are still missing, according to authorities. 

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