On the last day of Civil Service Month yesterday, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos, Jr. urged Bulakenyos and civil servants to remember and emulate the dedication to public service of the five Bulacan rescuers as he personally visited the wake of the said heroes at the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium in Malolos City, Bulacan.
“We, as servants to the people, are mandated to perform our functions all for the service of the Filipinos. May we all find inspiration in the commitment of these fine heroes of Bulacan to always stand by our sworn duty to serve and contribute for the betterment of the lives of our kababayans,” Abalos said.
“May the example of these men remain among us civil servants as we fulfill our own mission in public service,” he added.
Abalos said that he is not going to miss the opportunity to pay his last respects to the five fallen rescuers of the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (BPDRRMO) who died in the middle of their mission to save Bulakenyos in San Miguel, Bulacan amid the havoc of Super Typhoon Karding.
He personally handed financial assistance to each of the families of George E. Agustin from Iba O’ Este, Calumpit; Troy Justin P. Agustin from Sta. Rita, Guiguinto; Marby A. Bartolome from Bulihan, City of Malolos; Jerson L. Resurreccion from Catmon, Santa Maria; and Narciso Calayag, Jr. of City of Malolos.
He said that no amount of monetary compensation can equal the sacrifices and commitment to service of the said heroes “but it’s the least that we could do for the bereaved families who did not only lose a loved one but also their provider.”
Reports on the ground stated that the five rescuers went missing at 2 AM on September 26, 2022 as their boat was sucked by the surge of water caused by a collapsing wall on their way to their rescue mission. Their remains were found at Sitio Banga-Banga, Barangay Camias, San Miguel, Bulacan.
Abalos likewise lauded the Provincial Government of Bulacan, the BPDRRMO, and all the local government units (LGUs) in the province for their swift action at the height of Super Typhoon Karding leading to thousands of saved lives in the province. “BPDRRMO is one of the best in the country and we saw that during ‘Karding’. Hindi matatawaran ang husay ng mga rescuer na Bulakenyo.”
According to the Bulacan LGU, a total of 4,760 individuals have already safely returned to their homes on September 27, 2022 after being evacuated during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Karding.
The DILG Secretary said that the unfortunate incident also opened doors for dialogue on the regularization of contractual employees who have served the government for many years. “Nagbukas ito ng pagkakataon upang ito ay mapag-usapan para sa kapakinabangan ng ating mga kababayang under contractual status.”
Following the death of the five rescuers, Senator Joel Villanueva, also a native of Bulacan, together with other senators pushed for the regularization and improved security of tenure in the government.
According to reports, three of the five rescuers were casual workers and were not holders of plantilla or permanent positions.
Dubbed “Salamat at Paalam, Bayaning Tagapagligtas! Luksang Parangal para sa mga Yumaong Lingkod Bayan”, the Provincial Government of Bulacan organized a tribute for the five rescuers in the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium where their coworkers also paid their respect.