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Davao City, Philippines

Bong Go urges quick provision of one-time ‘Bayanihan’ financial assistance to LGUs; says fund will boost local measures to fight COVID-19

April 03, 2020 - Friday 10:04 PM by MDM

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After recommending earlier to the Executive Department the grant of one-time ‘Bayanihan’ financial assistance to cities and municipalities, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated its importance to help them respond to the needs of their constituents while the country is addressing the COVID-19 health emergency and the socioeconomic impact that comes with it. 

“Ang gobyernong lokal ang humaharap mismo sa araw-araw na problema ng kanilang mga nasasakupan. Sila ang unang nilalapitan ng mga tao. Tulungan natin silang mabigyan ng dagdag na kapasidad para rumesponde sa pangangailangan ng kanilang komunidad lalo na po sa malalayong lugar na kailangan ng tulong at hindi agad nabibigyan ng pansin ng national government,” Go explained. 

Citing his experience working in Davao City as President Rodrigo Duterte’s aide when the latter was still the city mayor, Go stressed the important role of local government units to protect the welfare of their communities.  

“Dati po akong nagtrabaho sa city hall ng Davao City kaya alam ko kung gaano po kahirap ang kanilang trabaho lalo na sa panahon ng krisis. Mahalaga ang ginagampanan nilang trabaho para masiguro ang kooperasyon ng mga Pilipino sa panahong ito,” Go said.

“Kaya naman dapat lamang nating tulungan ang mga local government units na maalagaan ang mga komunidad nila. Malaking tulong kung mabigyan sila ng dagdag na pondo para mapunan ang lumalaking pangangailangan ng mga tao ngayon,” he explained.

Go recommended that a one-time grant from the national government, equivalent to one month of their respective internal revenue allotments (IRA), will go a long way in enhancing the capabilities of LGUs in responding to the crisis. 

“Sa laki ng problemang kinakaharap natin, baka kukulangin ang kasalukuyang pondo ng ating mga LGU. Hindi naman po lahat ng LGUs ay pantay-pantay pagdating sa pondo,” Go explained. 

He explained that the one-time Bayanihan financial assistance for cities and municipalities can be taken from available funds or savings of the national government. 

Go added that if this proposal is granted, the funds should be used exclusively for projects, programs and activities concerning the COVID-19 situation, such as procurement of personal protective equipment for frontline service providers; medicines and vitamins; hospital equipment and supplies; disinfectants and related equipment; relief goods for low-income and vulnerable households; and tents for temporary shelter of the homeless, among others. 

He also clarified that the grant should be on top of other assistance that national government agencies are already providing to LGUs. Go explained that having forced their constituents to stay at home, LGUs are compelled to distribute relief goods and maintain peace and order while waiting for additional government interventions from the national government agencies. 

“Magagamit ito para hindi magutom at magkagulo ang mga tao. Kung walang nagugutom, mas magiging cooperative ang mga Pilipino sa gobyerno. Malaking tulong po ito upang masiguro ang kapayapaan at kaaayusan,” he said.

Go also explained that while the national government is taking charge in this time of crisis, LGUs must take responsibility as well in addressing the immediate needs of their constituents. 

“Now, more than ever, we, as elected officials, must do everything we can to be of service to the people,” he said. 

Go also reminded LGUs to make sure that the assistance reaches those who need aid the most, particularly the poorest of the poor, vulnerable sectors and displaced workers. He added that politics should not be a factor in providing such assistance. 

“Pakiusap ko lang, huwag na pong haluan ng pulitika ang pagtulong. Hindi po iyan nakakatulong sa sitwasyon natin ngayon. Huwag na natin pahirapan pa ang mga tao, tumulong nalang tayo na pabilisin ang pagbigay ng tulong sa kanila,” Go said. 

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and as a member of the Joint Oversight Committee that oversees the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Go has emphasized that the law has already given the government the necessary authority and flexibility to act immediately to address the present crisis. 

He reminded government officials to make sure that available funds are used properly and are maximized to provide immediate help to Filipinos who need government attention the most.

“Mahirap maging mahirap lalo na sa panahon ngayon na walang trabaho dahil sa enhanced community quarantine, kaya dapat nating bilisan ang ating aksyon para maibigay na sa taumbayan, lalo na sa mahihirap, ang kaukulang tulong para sa kanila,” Go said.

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