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Bong Go urges gov't to ensure proper health and safety protocols in assisting stranded Filipinos

June 29, 2020 - Monday 12:06 PM by MDM

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Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, in an interview on Saturday, June 27, addressed the confusion regarding the Hatid Tulong initiatives and the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program of the government. 

"Ito pong Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program, pinirmahan na po ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte 'yung EO nito (creating a council) composed of more than seventeen departments. Meron po itong short-term at long-term. 'Yung short-term, papauuwiin sa probinsya, bibigyan ng tulong, pangkabuhayan, trabaho," Go said.

"'Yung long-term naman, paplanuhin ang probinsyang uuwian nila na bibigyan ng insentibo 'yung mga negosyo para doon na mag-invest, para kung may negosyo roon, meron silang trabaho. Ito po 'yung Balik Probinsya," he clarified.

Go said that the BP2 Program is currently suspended to make way for the Hatid Tulong initiatives which assist stranded overseas Filipino workers and locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

"Sa kasalukuyan, suspendido po ito (BP2). Dahil inatasan ni Pangulong Duterte ang gobyerno na iuwi muna ang mga stranded tulad ng OFWs. Ayaw naman nating mag-mix itong dalawa,” explained Go.

In previous statements, Go further emphasized the differences of these initiatives, saying, “Ang BP2 Program ay para sa mga taga Metro Manila na gustong mag-relocate sa kanilang mga probinsya pagkatapos ng krisis. Nakasaad sa EO 114 na may long-term at whole-of-nation approach ito na ang layunin ay i-decongest ang Metro Manila at mapabilis ang pag-unlad ng iba’t ibang parte ng bansa.”

“Iba naman ang Hatid Tulong initiatives na para sa mga OFWs, LSIs at iba pang apektadong Pilipino na naipit dahil sa community quarantine measures at kailangang matulungang makauwi sa kanilang probinsya,” he added. 

Go also mentioned that the government will only resume implementation of the BP2 Program once receiving local government units are ready to accept beneficiaries. "Babalikan po natin ito kapag pwede nang mag-rollout at maaasikaso na ng LGUs ang lahat (ng nais bumalik)," he explained.

The Senator also urged the Executive branch to conduct a thorough review of the implementation of the Hatid Tulong initiative. "Since Hatid Tulong is a directive from the President, it is important to make sure that proper health and safety protocols are in place in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Proper coordination must also be conducted to make sure that receiving LGUs are willing and ready to accept their constituents."

Go also urged the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases to look into unauthorized travels and unsanctioned initiatives reportedly conducted by various LGUs and groups that do not comply with health protocols.

"Dapat higpitan dahil delikado makahawa ito. Unahin natin ang kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino. Kahit niluwagan na ang community quarantine measures sa iilang lugar, higpitan pa rin po natin ang mga patakaran na kaugnay ng pagbyahe patungo sa mga probinsya para maiwasan ang lalong pagkalat ng sakit," he said.

As for the plight of stranded OFWs, Go shared that protocols are in place to ensure their safe repatriation and return to their provinces. He mentioned that the OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS) will help the government keep track of the whereabouts of returning OFWs.

"Patuloy ang pagtulong sa mga uuwing mga OFWs. Ayon sa bagong regulasyon ng IATF, lahat ng uuwing OFWs ay isasailalim sa PCR testing. Habang naghihintay sa result, dadalhin sila muna sa mga partner-hotels. Maximum of 5 days lang sila dapat doon, dapat labas kaagad ang kanilang resulta,” Go explained.

The process was streamlined to prevent issues which emerged during the initial implementation of the COVID-19 repatriation program for OFWs. 

"Nananawagan ako sa gobyerno, kung negative, tulungan agad makauwi. Kung hindi sila masundo ng kanilang kamag-anak, lalo na kung taga-Metro Manila lang sila at karatig na probinsya, meron pong binibigay ang gobyerno na libreng pagpapauwi. Direktiba po ito ng Pangulo na makabalik sila agad sa kanilang probinsya," he said, emphasizing that health and safety protocols must be strictly followed in facilitating their return to their provinces. 

The Senator also mentioned that PhP2.5 billion worth of cash assistance has already been allotted for documented OFWs who are affected by the pandemic. The Senator said that he has also urged the government to provide assistance to undocumented OFWs.

"Hangad ko rin na hindi mapabayaan iyong mga undocumented. Kailangan natin suportahan ang lahat ng ating mga kababayan na naghihirap ngayon lalo na’t panahon ng krisis sa buong mundo. Sabi rin ni Pangulo na walang dapat mapabayaan na Pilipino sa laban na ito," Go emphasized.

Meanwhile, given the limited transportation options for Filipinos due to the community quarantine being implemented in the country, Go also said that he is open to suggestions of allowing motorcycle backriding.

"Malaking tulong sa ating mga kababayan kung papayagan ang ‘backriding’ sa motorsiklo lalo na dahil limitado pa ang public transportation. Huwag lang po natin madaliin. Siguraduhin dapat na magagawa ito sa ligtas na paraan," Go said.

"Pinag-aaralan na po ng IATF ito sa ngayon. Una pong gustong iparating sa gobyerno ay 'yung backriding among family members. Antayin na muna natin ‘yung health protocols na dapat sundin,” he added. 

Go also encouraged the public to consider the use of bicycles as a transport alternative. "Kaya nga I encourage also na magbisikleta. May mga bicycle lanes na po tayo sa ngayon. Basta siguraduhin po dapat na ligtas," he advised.

Ending the interview, Go asked Filipinos to cooperate and remain vigilant in light of the current public health situation and follow preventive measures to avoid contracting COVID-19.

"Wearing a mask in public is a must. Kung hindi naman po kailangan, 'wag muna kayo umalis sa inyong pamamahay. Konting tiis lang po muna. Iba na po talaga ang buhay natin sa ngayon pero alam ko kakayanin natin itong lampasan basta meron tayong disiplina," Go said.

"Huwag po kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa amin. Trabaho namin ito. Itong taon na ito, masanay na tayo sa bagong pamumuhay habang wala pang gamot sa COVID-19. Patuloy po tayong magbayanihan para mabilis na malampasan ang krisis na ito," he added.


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