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Davao City, Philippines

Bong Go marks first year as Senator, continues quest to improve services

July 11, 2020 - Saturday 11:07 AM by MDM

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Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go continues his quest in helping improve various government services as he marks his first year as a Senator of the Republic.  He admits that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought into the open how crucial responsive and efficient delivery of critical government services is in the country's fight against the disease outbreak.  

"Sa loob ng ilang dekada kong pagseserbisyo kasama si Tatay Digong simula noong mayor pa lamang siya ng Davao, nakita ko kung gaano kaimportante ang mabilis na paghahatid ng serbisyo ng gobyerno sa mga Pilipino. Kailangan po ng mabilis na aksyon," Go said.

"Kaya naman nang ako ay mahalal bilang Senador, isa sa mga pangunahing layunin ko ang masiguro na mabigyan ang ating mga kababayan ng mabilis, maayos, at maaasahang serbisyo na may tunay na malasakit. Pangako ko ito sa kanila dahil alam ko kung gaano kahirap minsan ang kahit humingi lang ng konting tulong sa gobyerno," he added.

When Go and President Rodrigo Duterte were still then working at the Davao City hall, they had to assist people from all walks of life who queued up at the City Mayor’s office seeking medical and financial assistance.  Many of them included even those who are not residents of the city, something the Commission on Audit had been concerned about. “Bong, kailangan mahanapan mo ito ng paraan. Mga Pilipino din ‘yan sila kahit hindi taga Davao,” then city mayor Duterte said.

At the start of the 18th Congress last July 2019, Go already filed his first bill, the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019. Signed into law last December of last year, the measure seeks to streamline the provision of government medical and financial assistance to Filipinos, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic background, religion and political affiliation. At present, there are already 74 Malasakit Centers nationwide.

Recognizing the important role played by the overseas Filipino workers in the economy and nation-building, Go also filed Senate Bill 202, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019, which seeks to hasten the provision of government services to OFWs by establishing a central authority responsible for all OFW-related matters and concerns. The proposed department is expected to improve coordination among concerned offices in responding to the needs of overseas Filipinos. 

Go also acknowledges that pertinent facilities in the face of crisis should be readily accessible to Filipino wherever they are in the country. It is for this reason that he has filed SB 1228 which mandates the establishment of an evacuation center in every  province, city and municipality throughout the country.

Meanwhile, SB 1259 or the “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020” mandates the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region in the country easily accessible to a DOH hospital and strategically located to ensure the safety of the community. This ensures quicker government response to pandemics such as COVID-19 and other contagious diseases.

Go also filed SB 399 establishing a drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center in every province in the country under the supervision of the DOH in support of the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

To capacitate the health department in streamlining the enhancement of local public hospitals, the Senator also filed SB 1226, or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, which authorizes the Department of Health to increase the bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals and to allow it to promulgate evaluation and approval guidelines. 

Go is also aware of the vulnerability of the country to both man-made and natural disasters. For swifter government response and to scale up the country’s resilience against the effects of climate change, Go filed SB 205 or the Department of Disaster Resilience Act which aims to create an empowered, highly specialized and responsive DDR with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities. The department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.

He also filed SB 204, or the Fire Protection Modernization Act of 2019, which provides for the establishment of a Fire Protection Modernization Program to be implemented by the Bureau of Fire Protection which shall include hiring of more personnel, acquiring modern fire equipment, and trainings for firefighters, among others.

Other bills authored by Go set for committee hearing include SB 1528 which intends to amend Republic Act 11332, also known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”  The bill will improve government response and enhance disease surveillance and control in the country, such as having better capabilities in conducting more testing and intensive contact tracing in times of pandemics.

The Senator also seeks to improve local government units' access to funds to improve their public education system. Hence, Go filed SB 396 which expands the application of the Special Education Fund, giving local government units the flexibility to boost their support to local public schools and facilitate the transition to “blended learning” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In an effort to address the sluggish pace of the country's justice system, Go filed SB 1252 which seeks to add three additional divisions of the Court of Appeals, each with three members. These additional members and divisions will enable the Court of Appeals to handle its case load in a more efficient manner. SB 1254 proposes the creation of an additional division of the National Labor Relations Commission will be beneficial for the proper administration and implementation of the labor laws and regulations.

“Mula noon hanggang ngayon, hangarin po namin ni Pangulong Duterte na gawing mas mabilis, maayos, at maaasahan ang pagbibigay ng serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan.  Sabi nga niya palagi: ‘let us provide Filipinos a comfortable life for all’,” Go said.