Rep. Duterte warns barangay officials asking share from cash aid of constituents

DAVAO CITY – First Congressional District Representative Paolo Z. Duterte clarified on Tuesday, December 29, that the cash aid and food packs distributed by his office are for beneficiaries in identified areas only.

The young congressman issued such statement after the Office of the First Congressional District received reports about barangay officials asking their constituents for their share on the assistance they received from the office.

“Walay katungod ang tanang barangay officials na mangayo ug bahin sa mga benepisyaryo (The barangay officials have no right to ask for their share from the beneficiaries received assistance),” Rep. Duterte said.

Rep. Duterte urged beneficiaries to report those barangay officials asking their share over the cash aid or food packs they received from the government, to his office or nearby police station.

Many residents in Davao City are struggling to make ends meet under implementation of the community quarantine due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), thus, government provides assistance to those in need.

Bong Go eyes possible Bayanihan 3 to further assist vulnerable sectors affected by the pandemic

Given the ongoing pandemic and the emergence of new strains of COVID-19 in other countries, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said that legislators and finance managers are studying the possibility of another measure to strengthen the country’s response and recovery efforts.

After the passage of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act this year, Go said that there may be a need for a “Bayanihan 3” to further assist vulnerable sectors, including those who have lost their jobs as well as previously locally stranded individuals who have returned to their provinces and are seeking economic opportunities.

“Kung may pera po, possible ‘yan (Bayanihan 3). Kakausapin ko si (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez… kung talagang hirap tayo ngayong darating na taon, (titignan) kung mayro’n pong posibilidad… kakausapin ko pa po na sana po’y magkaroon tayo ng Bayanihan 3,” Go said during a radio interview on Monday, December 28.

He added that he will discuss with President Rodrigo Duterte the possibility of proposing the Bayanihan 3 measure.

“Kung saka-sakali, kakausapin ko rin po si Pangulo, kung mayro’n naman silang pagkukunan, siguro sa mga susunod na buwan ay maaaring pag-aaralan po na magkaroon tayo ng Bayanihan 3,” he said.

“Titingnan (natin) kung saan talaga ang mas nangangailangan pa ng tulong, kung sino pa ‘yung hindi nakakatanggap ng tulong na mga sektor,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Senator said that almost all locally stranded individuals had been transported back to their provinces.

“Almost all na po nakauwi, ‘yung iba nakabalik na rito eh. ‘Yung mga nakauwi na ng probinsya, ‘yung iba bumalik na siguro dito dahil may mga trabaho na po ‘yung iba. Pero sa totoo lang, talagang napakahirap po na ma-stranded na wala kang kamag-anak,” Go said.

The Senator recounted the recent plight of LSIs who were stranded in Metro Manila at the height of the strict implementation of the community quarantine, saying, “Alam n’yo po, mahirap ma-stranded dito sa Maynila, wala silang mga kamag-anak dito at kawawa.”

“Kaya nga sabi ni Pangulo, hayaan n’yo namang makauwi ‘yung mga kababayan natin. Kasi, at least, doon sa probinsya, nando’n ‘yung kapitbahay nila, mga kamag-anak nila,” he added.

Go also emphasized the importance of managing the pandemic well through the cooperation of the public to alleviate the burden on the healthcare system. He added that the need for stricter quarantine measures may be unnecessary if authorities are able to properly implement health protocols in communities.

“At kung manatiling manageable po ang bilang ng kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, baka hindi na kailangang maghigpit pa tayo ng quarantine measures,” Go said.

“Kaya dapat ma-manage natin na hindi bumagsak ang ating healthcare system dahil pag bumagsak ito, malaking problema at mas malaking gastos sa ating gobyerno,” he added.

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PRRD signs 2021 GAA into law

STATEMENT OF SEN. BONG GO Re: SIGNING OF 2021 GAA

I laud the President for signing the 2021 national budget today. I also thank my colleagues in both houses of Congress for having submitted the proposed budget on time. The signing is timely as we continue to deal with the pandemic and all its impacts on our people and economy.

Tiwala ako na ang budget na ito ay sapat at angkop upang tuluyan nating malagpasan ang krisis na ating kasalukuyang kinakaharap. Maipagpapatuloy din natin ang mga programa at proyekto ng Administrasyong Duterte upang tuluyang maisakatuparan ang pangakong maginhawang buhay para sa lahat ng mga Pilipino.

Ang panawagan ko naman sa mga ahensyang magpapatupad nito, siguraduhin nating nagagamit ng maayos ang pondo ng taumbayan. Dapat walang masayang ni piso sa kaban ng bayan at dapat maramdaman ng mga mamamayan natin ang mga programa, proyekto at serbisyo ng gobyerno.

PRRD will not allow face-to-face classes considering new strains of COVID-19

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered on December 26, Saturday, educational institutions to not conduct face-to-face classes yet given the emergence of new strains of COVID-19.

“We will implement the president’s instructions to recall limited face-to-face classes in the light of recent development,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in response to the President’s order.

Earlier, Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his firm reservation regarding the holding of pilot face-to-face classes in the country by January 2021 while there is still no approved safe and effective vaccine and amid the emergence of new strains of COVID-19.

He has consistently urged concerned authorities to reconsider such plan given the potential threat of COVID-19 and its new strains to the health and safety of the students, teaching staff and surrounding communities, without an approved vaccine to protect them.

“Same stand po ako diyan. Matagal ko nang sinasabi na habang wala pang vaccine ay ‘wag muna natin ipasubo ang mga bata. Dapat balikan at pag-aralan ng gobyerno ang polisiyang ito na bumalik sa face-to-face classes,” Go said during an interview on Saturday, December 26.

“Sa Mayo, matatapos naman na ang klase (school year). Ba’t ‘di na lang natin antayin? Alam naman natin na marami pang nangyayari. Nakakabahala kung bubuksan pa natin ang klase (na face-to-face),” he said.

“Unahin natin ang buhay at kaligtasan ng bawat Pilipino. A life lost is a life lost forever,” he stressed further.

The Department of Education had earlier pushed for limited physical classes in low-risk areas in order to address the educational challenges confronting children from disadvantaged families and in rural areas.

Go has discussed the issue with President Duterte to reconsider the move and delay the pilot implementation until there is a safe and effective vaccine available and the country’s level of immunity is high enough to achieve herd immunity.

“With what is happening right now sa ibang bansa, siguro maaaring pag-usapan at pag-aralan at bisitahing muli ang desisyon ng DepEd. Pwede ko pong kausapin si Pangulo at maaaring pag-aralang muli ang pilot implementation ng face-to-face classes,” continued the Senator.

“Pag may nag-positive diyan kahit isa, panibagong contact tracing na naman tayo. Back to square one na naman, panibagong trabaho. Ba’t ‘di pa natin hintayin ang next school year? Sakaling ma-attain na natin ang herd immunity baka sakaling makapag pilot test na tayo,” he added.

Existing health protocols, travel restrictions may be further strengthened as new COVID-19 strain confirmed in nearby Sabah

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said that existing health protocols and travel restrictions due to the pandemic may be further strengthened as Malaysia has identified a new COVID-19 strain from samples in neighboring Sabah state.

“Baka lalo pa nating paigtingin, istriktuhan pa ang entry, lalo na’t ngayon lang ito lumabas ‘yung sa Sabah,” Go said during a radio interview on Saturday, December 26.

“Baka pag-usapan po ng ating Pangulo with IATF and more than twenty medical experts, ipapatawag at papakinggan ng Pangulo. Itong mga experts ang nakakaalam at makakatulong sa (pag-address sa ) new strain na ito,” he added.

Go mentioned that Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan has already consulted with the IATF on how best to handle the emerging situation due to the proximity of Sulu province to Sabah.

“Ngayon ay nananawagan si Governor Tan sa IATF na tulungan sila sa anong gagawin matapos mabalitaan na may new strain sa Sabah, dahil 29 hours via boat lang po ang Sulu at marami ang pumapasok d’yan sa likod,” explained Go.

“So, maging istrikto pa tayo at bantayan ang coastal areas dahil ‘di natin makakaya na magkaroon pa ng ganitong kaso. Nahihirapan na nga tayo, panibagong health protocols na naman ang gagawin kung sakaling totoo itong new strain,” he added.

Meanwhile, pursuant to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Resolution No. 90, Go explained during the interview that even transiting passengers from the U.K. are subjected to travel restrictions and stringent quarantine protocols.

“Ito po, pursuant to the IATF reso, nag-decide po ang Pangulo na magkaroon ng travel ban from U.K. including Filipinos. [This applies] to travellers who visited U.K. or [are] merely passing through U.K.,” said Go.

“Ibig sabihin, kahit dumaan ka lang doon, istrikto na ang quarantine protocols na gagawin kapag nakadaan ka sa U.K,” he further explained.

Go also said that the country should better prepare for the emergence of new COVID-19 strains given that it is a new disease.

“Bago po itong sakit na COVID-19. Habang may napapabalitang new strain, panibagong pag-aaral na naman ng health experts, ‘di lang dito sa ating bansa,” Go said.

“One step at a time tayo, mabuti nang handa tayo, pinag-aaralan po ang lahat. Uunahin po natin ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino sa magiging desisyon,” he added.

Earlier, Go confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte is cutting short his Christmas break in Davao City to meet with concerned government officials to discuss measures to address the new COVID-19 strain.

The new strain has caused a surge of new infections in the United Kingdom, prompting countries to shut their borders to the UK. Meanwhile, countries like Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Gibraltar, and the Netherlands have already reported their first cases of the new strain.

The Philippines, on the other hand, has already imposed a temporary travel ban of flights from the United Kingdom since December 24 until the end of the year. However, outgoing flights are still allowed, following current exit protocols.

Go has also urged the public to strictly abide by necessary health protocols as they celebrate the holidays.

“Kasama natin ang ating pamilya, pero wala munang parties dahil delikado pa po habang wala pa pong vaccine, no time to celebrate, ‘wag muna tayong mag-celebrate, ang importante kasama natin ang pamilya sa isang bahay,” Go said, reminding everyone to wear masks and face shields, observe social distancing, and avoid unessential travels.

“Patuloy lang po tayong magdasal at magmalasakit sa kapwa. Alagaan natin ang ating kalusugan at panatilihing ligtas ang ating komunidad — iyan ang pinaka-importanteng mapapamahagi natin ngayong Pasko at pagpasok ng bagong taon,” he added.