Bong Go appeals anew to national government to replenish calamity funds of LGUs also hit by Typhoon Ulysses

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has appealed again to the national government to assist local government units also affected by Typhoon Ulysses by augmenting their calamity funds equivalent to 1% of their respective Internal Revenue Allotment.

Earlier, Go successfully appealed to the budget department to augment the same funds of LGUs hit by Super Typhoon Rolly that earlier wrought devastation in many areas in Luzon, particularly Bicol and parts of southern Luzon.

According to the Senator, most of the calamity funds of LGUs have been depleted due to the unexpected pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that continues to affect the lives of Filipinos.

“Umaapela ako ulit sa ating gobyerno, kay Pangulo at sa DBM, na tulungan ang mga pinaka-apektadong LGUs na nangangailangan ng dagdag na calamity funds para mas makaresponde sa mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga kababayan,” Go said.

“Kailangan nila ng dagdag na pondo para makabili ng pagkain, gamot at iba pang gamit para maalagaan ang mga nasalanta at matulungang makabangon muli. Kahit at least 1% lang po ay i-replenish ninyo, malaki nang tulong ito,” he appealed.

Go’s appeal came after calls for assistance from affected LGUs as their calamity funds have been exhausted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent string of typhoons that hit the country the past months.

“Malaki po ang magagawa ng pondong ito upang mapunan ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga komunidad, lalo na’t nabawasan na ang kanilang naunang pondo dahil sa pandemya,” he added.

Go also suggested that the executive department may explore the possibility for incremental provision of additional funds to severely affected LGUs depending on the extent of the needs of communities and on the availability of funds.

“Sunud-sunod ang mga sakuna at krisis na dumating sa ating bansa. Kaya ngayon na may hinaharap silang panibagong krisis, huwag natin silang pabayaan at bigyan natin sila ng dagdag na tulong. Sabi nga ng Pangulo, no one should be left behind,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Go also urged LGUs to monitor evacuation sites and that health protocols are properly followed since COVID-19 has not yet been fully contained in the country. He added that protocols must be in place to avoid the further spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

“Sa mga LGU officials, tutukan natin ang mga evacuation sites dahil kailangan masunod ang mga health protocols. Narito pa rin ang COVID-19 at habang wala pang bakuna para dito, patuloy dapat tayong maging alerto at iwasan ang pagkakahawaan,” he added.

Go also mentioned that the government is monitoring the development of the vaccine as it was reported that two vaccines have reached at least 90% efficiency against the virus. He stressed the need to plan, communicate and implement a national vaccination program to guarantee equitable access and systematic provision once safe and effective vaccines are made available.

“Siguraduhin nating magkaroon ng access ang mga pinaka-nangangailangan, lalo na ang mga mahihirap at vulnerable sectors. Sila ang kailangan lumabas at magtrabaho upang buhayin ang pamilya nila,” he said.

Bong Go lauds proclamation of fourth Sunday of November as National Bicycle Day, pushes for safety measures to protect bicycle riders

With the growing use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation and the increasing number of cycling enthusiasts in the country, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for proclaiming every fourth Sunday of November as National Bicycle Day through Proclamation No. 1052 he signed last November 18.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is mandated to lead its observance every year, in coordination with relevant non-government organizations and civil society groups.

“Dapat lamang mas bigyan pa natin ng kaukulang suporta ang ating mga siklista. Siguraduhin rin natin na maprotektahan sila at mapromote pa lalo ito bilang mas healthy and environment friendly mode of transportation,” Go said, who also chairs the Senate Committees on Sports and Health.

Go, who has been a supporter of the use of bicycles as an active form of transportation in the country, aims to also provide awareness on the benefits of non-motorized transportation to the environment. He also emphasized the benefits of cycling to the physical health and well-being of Filipinos.

“Sa panahon ngayon, kailangan na nating isipin paano makakatulong ang ating lifestyle sa ating kalusugan. Sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng bisikleta, mabibigyan tayo ng pagkakataong makapag-exercise at, syempre, makatulong sa ating kapaligiran,” Go said.

Moreover, the Senator is urging Filipinos to consider the bicycle as a means of mobility amid the ongoing the pandemic. Given the existing community quarantine restrictions, the challenges and limitations on public transportation, Go has been encouraging Filipinos who need to go to work to use bicycles.

He added, “And, in fact, doon po sa mga nasunugan, tinatanong ko sila, hirap po sila… they’re having a hard time po sa transportation in going to their respective na trabaho po nila, so sabi ko, I encourage them to use bicycles. Minsan po namimigay po ako ng bisikleta sa kanila.”

During aid distribution activities and outreach programs conducted by his office for Filipinos affected by the pandemic, calamities and other crisis situations around the country, the Senator has been giving away bicycles to provide means of transportation, especially to those who have to go to work.

“Limitado ang ating transportasyon ngayon dahil sa pandemya. Kailangan maiwasan muna natin ang paggamit masyado ng pampublikong sasakyan dahil ayaw nating mahawaan ng sakit. Kaya naman isa sa mga solusyon talaga ay ang paggamit ng bisikleta,” Go said.

In his speech on the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking held on July 16, Go said, “I have strongly been advocating for the use of bicycles these days. Matagal ko na rin pong hinihikayat ang ating mga kababayan na gumamit nalang po ng bisikleta para sa kanilang pang-araw araw na commute.”

Last August, Go also expressed his full support for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1582, also known as the “Safe Pathways Act”. The bill seeks to establish networks of pop-up bicycle lanes and emergency pathways along local roads following the imposition of community quarantine measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senator has been reminding national and local governments to designate bike lanes to ensure the ease and safety of those who opt to use such mode of transportation as well as the general public.

Citing the National Transport Policy of the National Economic Development Authority, “LGUs and national agencies shall accord the highest priority to the development of proper sidewalks and networks of bicycle lanes that will encourage active transport and provide safe and direct access to priority destinations.” According to Go, it is imperative that people-mobility must be prioritized over vehicle-mobility.

“Let us just make sure the lanes are properly assigned with demarcation lines and lighting in place,” Go said.

Since 2014, the National Bicycle Day has been held every fourth Sunday of November in the country in line with the observance of the National Environmental Awareness month, Clean Air Month, and the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, Survivors and their Families which are all celebrated on the same month.

Go also reminded bicycle riders to follow traffic rules and safety regulations in order to avoid accidents and untoward incidents.

“Pakiusap lang po sa mga nagbibisikleta: sumunod po tayo sa batas trapiko at sa mga patakaran. Maging disiplinado po tayo para sa kaayusan rin ng ating komunidad,” he said.


Theo Gayta a hero at 19

Theo Louis Rabat Gayta was a very promising young man. The son of City of Mati Vice Mayor Glenda Rabat-Gayta, Theo just entered college when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

At 19, Theo was enrolled at the Ateneo de Davao University taking up BA Mechanical Engineering.

Theo was just like any teenager who’s into social media and online gaming.

On Monday, November 16, Theo was airlifted to Davao City after sustaining a gunshot wound in the head. Two days later, Theo became a hero.

With his family’s consent, Theo’s eyes and kidney were donated to people who need them most to live a full life.

In Theo’s death, several are given the chance to live longer. Theo was best suited to be an organ donor considering his age and health.

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As Theo was wheeled into the operating room, the hospital staff bowed down to show their respect to the young hero.

The Rabat-Gayta family have a lot of plan for Theo. For now, their only consolation is knowing that Theo became what he always wanted to be — a hero.

“It’s inspiring to know that there will be people seeing the world through Theo’s eyes and there will be people who are given another chance in life,” said Theo’s mother.

Theo will be brought home to Mati on Sunday, November 22.

Mayor Sara Duterte’s State of the City Address

Maayong adlaw sa inyong tanan!

When I started my fresh term as Mayor in July 2019, I mentally prepared myself for the emergencies and disasters. No term of mine was ever uneventful and I did not expect the current one to be smooth sailing but my wildest dreams never considered a pandemic.

As Chief Executive, I have weathered numerous storms but what completely floored me was that I did not see an end to this one.

Ten months since the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, Davao City remains trapped in a very peculiar reality just like the rest of the world. And we should all manage our expectations because this pandemic will define how we will live our lives for another two years. Maybe more.

Ten (10) months into the COVID-19 pandemic and we have seen an alarming spike in the number of confirmed Covid-19 positive cases. As we wait for a vaccine to control the spread, we need to be thinking about ways to reduce risk of transmission. The basics there is- stay at home, wear a mask, frequently wash your hands, and observe social/physical distancing.

This is not only a public health emergency, but also an economic and social crisis. And we are endlessly, trying out the best strategic, seamless connection between the stages under our Plan of Action against Covid19 — Prevention, Testing, Contact Tracing, and Isolation, Quarantine, and Treatment.

The following are the highlights of the city’s COVID-19 response –

Testing: The City’s testing capacity is currently at approximately 1,200 tests per day.

We have supported the establishment of two private laboratories and we are rushing the completion of our own Los Amigos Davao Laboratory funded from the Bayanihan Heal as One Act.

Trace: Contact Tracing has been particularly challenging. Just very recently, the Department of the Interior and Local Government augmented 1,500 personnel to assist in the city’s contact-tracing efforts.

We also envision to use technology to support the team. We endeavor to catch many of the contacts of a confirmed positive case with the use of the Safe Davao QR.

Isolate: As of date, we have 15 Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities with a capacity of 1,171 bed spaces for various types of individuals from confirmed positive, suspects, contacts and post-swab individuals.

We also have 601 bed spaces across four (4) facilities supporting our “Test and Wait” initiative for arriving passengers at the Davao International Airport.

Treat: Initially, we had the Southern Philippines Medical Center as the sole hospital for COVID-19 patients. But with the surge of cases, three (3) private hospitals have opened COVID-19 wards.

Cremation: Another project funded by the Bayanihan Law is the Wireless Public Cemetery Crematorium, which shall accommodate all COVID-related deaths. It is now on its final stages of testing and training for personnel operations.

On top of these responses, social welfare programs were also initiated by the city government in support to our daily wage earners and people working in the informal sector who faced loss of jobs, income, and food security.

Food Relief Response remains to be our top priority since March. We have distributed 1,305,454 grocery packs to 448,312 households in all 182 barangays of the city during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period. A total of 70, 994 food packs were also given to workers of establishments and sectors who remain to be affected by the Modified General Community Quarantine.

We encourage everyone who needs help and ayuda sa pagkaon to please reach out to our City Social Welfare and Development Office social workers for immediate assistance.

The WORK FOR DAVAO Cash for Work initiative has provided cash assistance to at least 20,180 Dabawenyos who lost their jobs amidst this pandemic.

Along with this, the TUPAD of the Department of Labor and Employment has also helped jeepney drivers whose incomes have been greatly reduced because of the distancing requirements in public transportation. And just very recently, we used the same assistance to help out the displaced workers of the businesses affected by the liquor ban.

Meanwhile, ESKWELA DAVAO is an educational assistance grant for children of families who lost their source of income or have reduced income due to the pandemic. The program will benefit 22,000 students — of which 4,500 are Junior High School; 4,500 are Senior High School; 10,000 are elementary; and, 3,000 are kindergarten. The beneficiaries are set to receive cash assistance ranging from P1,000 to P3,000 each.

Two private donors also generously supported the families with three (3) or more learners with 300 laptops under the STUDENT SIBLINGS LAPTOP SHARING PROJECT and 100 tablets for the STUDENT SIBLINGS TABLET SHARING PROJECT to help them with their online school work.

We were able to support the Blended Learning implementation of the Department of Education by directing approximately 100 million pesos of the Special Education Fund to support the Modular mode of instruction, which is the highest preference among Davao City learners.

Even amidst the pandemic, the Byaheng DO30 program continues on. Here are the highlights of what we hope to finish during the end of my term in June 2022:

We continuously support the big-ticket projects of the National Government that are aligned with the Infrastructure Modernization Project for Davao.

In particular, we were able to gain the full support of the Department of Transportation on the High Priority Bus System project and we are trying to cement the support of various national offices led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the Waste to Energy Project.

Since the WTE is but a paper that we push around for much needed support, we have allotted funding under the Annual Budget 2021 to expand our existing sanitary landfill for our solid waste management.

Currently, the Interim Bus System is suffering setbacks because of the fear of investors in not being able to deliver the contract on time due to the Covid-19 global economic loss. The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board has been on top of this matter since we started with the first failed bidding.

In the meantime, the City Government is working together with local consultants in figuring out how we can lay out the bus and bike lanes on our roads. And we have already sent out our letters for the possible collaboration with private landowners for bus terminals and depots in Toril, Lasang-Bunawan and Calinan.

And we are also looking at the option of funding the land and right of way acquisition for transportation infrastructure for provincial buses, the interim bus system, and the HPBS. We likewise need to fund the study and installation of additional traffic lights in new intersections and integrate them to our existing system.

We are also continuously monitoring the Davao City Bypass Project, the Davao-Samal Bridge, and the Davao City Coastal Road Project.

The Davao River and Coastal Road Monitoring Team, which was recently created to monitor activities along coastal road, has helped with the voluntary removal by owners of numerous makeshift houses along and atop river dikes, which are considered as danger zones.

Our Magsaysay Park and Sta. Ana Port development efforts are also on hold while awaiting the completion of the coastal road to ensure that any investment in these properties are not rendered useless by a possible redesign due to the coastal road.

For parks and open spaces development, we have completed two new parks – the Candelaria Park and the McArthur Highway Park, and we are in the bidding for a park along the Dona Vicenta subdivision area. We are also to start the Phase 1 of the development of the Roxas Avenue Park funded by DBM.

When this pandemic is over, I invite everyone to ride through the scenic areas of Paquibato and Calinan especially the parts which were made through the Roads and Bridges to Peace project implemented by the DPWH that is intended to open more economic activities and address the peace and order issues in these areas.

During your evening ride, I also invite everyone to look up to our sodium to LED bulbs transition for streetlights which have greatly improved visibility and security on the roads.

Meanwhile, our security status has remained to be on high alert since 2016 and this year, a 53 percent decrease in index crimes was recorded as it dropped from 658 to 306 in the previous year.

The non-index crimes, on the other hand, increased to 74 percent, from 2887 to 4189 crimes, due to the increased apprehensions on the violation of Covid-19 health protocols.

Drugs and terrorism remain to be on top of our focus areas on criminality and we are underscoring the adoption of the Culture of Security. Simply put, all Dabawenyos should become be a partner in ensuring that our city remains peaceful.

One component that we are trying to cascade down to the household level is the “Kapag May Nakita, Dapat Magsalita” component of the culture. We need our residents to report all suspicious persons and activities for security action. The initial conduct of the community exercise in the last month proved effective on Dabawenyos’ capacity to report possible threats.

Peace 911 continues to work in establishing lasting peace commitments from the residents in the area of Paquibato. Along with this, we are working on the establishment of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Extension Campus and a Police Station in Barangay Malabog, and a District Hall and City Mayor’s Extension Office in Barangay Paquibato Proper.

Housing options need to escalate aggressively to address the need of our people for a suitable, safe, and affordable homes.

The donated houses built on the Los Amigos Relocation Site are almost fully occupied and the private companies complying with their housing regulation mandate have recently finished the site development of the Lasang Relocation Area. We hope to see the National Housing Authority to build these homes soon.

The City Economic Enterprise Office has funds for the purchase of property for the establishment of cemeteries in both the North and South side of the City.

The development of the Tagakpan Cemetery and the repair of Toril, Mintal, and Bankerohan Public Markets, and the completion of Agdao Public Market are all underway.

There is a long-term plan to improve on the local government center in San Pedro St. and the priority is to expand the open spaces in Rizal Park and create an underground parking.

To this end, we have moved the CSWDO office to its own 4-storey building and the City Engineer’s Office building is currently under construction; adjacent to it is also the construction of the City Health Office building.

Within the People’s Park compound, the newly built Tourism and DCIPC building is ready for occupancy, the Museo Dabawenyo is undergoing construction and the MICE building will soon follow. Our brand new Library and Information Center in the nearby C Bangoy Street will inaugurate next year.

Other infrastructure projects that will start soon are the Halfway House for the Mentally Unwell Vagrants and the Davao City Special Needs Intervention Center.

Our disaster office is busy completing the evacuation center in Brgy. Mahayag and finalizing requirements for other possible sites.

We are also finalizing the documents for the Davao AKO card, which shall be used as a disaster and social services card for Davao City residents.

The Davao City Disaster Radio has been granted a legislative franchise and is currently constructing its permanent home.

We are awaiting the final documents for the approval of the Annual Budget of 2021 in the amount of 9,871,199.436 pesos, which has a significant decrease of 466,533, 226 pesos from this year’s budget of 10, 337, 732, 662 pesos.

The difference is attributed to the decrease of income from local sources because of the severe economic impact of COVID-19. The net effect is the reduction on the number of projects under the development fund. On the bright side, we are still on track for our goal of Debt Free Davao 2022.

There are three projects which are equally important but has been pushed back beyond my term for various reasons, the least priority of which is the expansion of the City Hall Building, which is moved to no definite date.

The City College of Davao which was targeted to open August this year is moved to June 2023 — and hopefully, by that time, the situation will already allow face to face classes. In the meantime, we are on the process of doing another feasibility study for this project.

The third is the Davao City Hospital in partnership with the University of the Philippines Mindanao, which will probably materialize in 2024. Right now, the documentary requirements for this hospital is being accomplished.

My heartfelt gratitude to all honest and hardworking City Government officials, heads of offices and employees, National Government Agencies and Instrumentalities, officials and employees, and countless private donors who lift me up as your local chief executive.

With them, I also thank all the Dabawenyos who help us become better servants with their support and constructive feedback.

COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. We should expect that it would be a difficult stretch.

I will forever be between a rock and a hard place amidst this pandemic. The rock that exemplifies all the people trying to save the lives of our fellowmen from dying of Covid-19 complications and the hard place that is representative of the people trying to save their families from going flat broke.

And we, Dabawenyos, WE WILL NOT BREAK.

The deaths, the pain, the debts, and the frustration are sent our way to change us into Dabawenyos, who look at dark clouds and see it as the silver lining.

Daghang Salamat.

Bong Go welcomes creation of task force for post-disaster rehabilitation while DDR is still pending legislation

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed the recent announcement by President Rodrigo Duterte to create an inter-agency task force that would singularly focus on fast-tracking recovery and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by the recent series of typhoons.

Go reassured the public that a whole-of-government approach is underway to ensure sufficient response to the needs of typhoon victims as well as in rebuilding affected communities severely hit by various typhoons the past days.

He emphasized that President Duterte has been consistent in his top marching orders for all concerned agencies to immediately assist all affected Filipinos, utilize all available resources to restore normalcy as soon as possible, and mobilize the whole government for a holistic approach towards recovery and rehabilitation.

“Patuloy ang rescue and response operations ng military and uniformed personnel hanggang maisalba ang lahat ng nangangailangan ng saklolo. Handa rin ang mga ahensya na tulungan ang mga nasalanta at patuloy ang pagbibigay ng mga pagkain, tubig, gamot, at iba pang relief assistance at pati na rin financial aid. Sinisikap din na maibalik kaagad ang supply ng kuryente, komunikasyon at tubig sa mga apektadong lugar,” Go said.

“Asahan po ninyo na gagawin namin ang lahat ng aming makakaya upang makabangon kayo muli mula sa pagsubok na ito. Hindi kayo pababayaan ng gobyerno ninyo na palaging nagmamalasakit sa inyo. Magbayanihan po tayo,” he urged.

Go joined President Duterte in carrying out an aerial inspection of typhoon-hit areas, such as the towns of Enrile, Iguig and Solana in Cagayan province on Sunday, November 15. The President also briefly talked to affected residents in Solana town upon landing. A briefing with national and local officials was held in Tuguegarao City.

Later in the day, both went to Camarines Sur for an aerial inspection of Minalabac and Bula towns and for another briefing at the provincial capitol with key Cabinet members and local officials.

“Ang opisina ko naman po ay patuloy ang pagbibigay ng dagdag na tulong sa mga apektado nating mga kababayan, lalo na ‘yung mga kailangan ng tulong medikal,” Go mentioned.

The Philippines has been battered with a series of calamities in a span of just two months on top of the health crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic. But throughout these crises, Go said that the government has shown that it is on top of the situation.

“Our government is all hands on deck. The President is in charge and took part in the planning and preparation process,” Go said.

“We registered fewer deaths, evacuated more people, forewarned a significant number of the population and maintained safety, security, and orderliness in communities compared to similar calamities in the past,” Go added, explaining that government efforts keep improving in terms of disaster preparedness and response.

But despite these notable efforts, Go recognizes the need to institutionalize further the mechanisms necessary to ensure full recovery and rehabilitation while “building back better.”

“Aside from providing help, we must also ensure that everything we do is synchronized, coordinated, and done well. I cannot stress this enough: Government must move as one to ensure that the delivery of assistance is timely, effective, and responsive,” he said.

While he recognizes the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s crucial role in disaster preparedness and response, Go said that the council still needs help in implementing and monitoring post-disaster recovery.

“Dito papasok ang Task Force sa recovery and rehab. May klaro itong mandato at kapasidad upang maimplementa ang mga programa hanggang makabangon muli ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi ito titigil hanggang matapos ang trabaho,” he explained.

Go, however, reiterated that in the long term, what the country truly needs to become disaster resilient is to institutionalize a single department that will handle all these responsibilities.

“Kaya ako paulit ulit na umaapela na ipasa na ang batas na magtatayo ng Department of Disaster Resilience. Ilang kalamidad at sakuna pa ba ang kailangan para maintindihan na kailangan na nating aksyunan ito upang mas palakasin pa ang mekanismong mayroon tayo ngayon,” he said.

“Kung may alinlangan ang mga kapwa kong mambabatas, pag-usapan natin sa Senado. Willing naman tayong lahat makinig at magtrabaho para makabuo ng solusyon ukol dito. Ang importante, aksyunan na natin at huwag nang patagalin pa dahil buhay ng mga Pilipino ang nakataya dito,” he added.

Go called on his colleagues in the Senate to look into Senate Bill 205, which he filed last year. Known as the Disaster Resilience Act of 2019, it seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience or DDR, which shall unify and streamline all responsibilities related to disaster preparedness and response that are presently scattered across various departments and offices.

The Senator has also appealed to the executive department to augment the calamity funds of the local government units, especially those that are still trying to control the spread of COVID-19 and are still recovering from other calamities.

Meanwhile, in a media interview after his briefing in Camarines Sur, President Duterte emphasized the importance of preparing even before typhoons hit the country. “What is important is that you have the machineries and you have the equipment, and you have the money, and people are there deployed before the typhoon comes,” the President said.

Duterte also shared that during the recent virtual ASEAN Summit he attended, he discussed with his fellow leaders in the region about the impact of climate change, considering the vulnerable geographical location of the Philippines in the Asia Pacific region.