Health protocols apply to all — Bong Go

In order to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go emphasized that all COVID-19 health and safety protocols being enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases must apply to all and not favor certain groups and individuals. This comes after various incidents recently went viral and earned public ire over alleged violations of pandemic protocols.

“Wala pong pinapaboran ang gobyerno pagdating sa health protocols. Lahat po ng mga Pilipino ay hinihikayat nating sumunod. Pantay-pantay dapat at no exceptions dahil importante ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” Go said.

“Kung nais po nating mabilis na maka-recover tayo mula sa pandemyang ito, sumunod tayong lahat sa mga patakaran kasi buhay natin at ng ating mga mahal sa buhay ang nakasalalay dito,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go urged the proper authorities to investigate incidents and hold responsible those involved where possible violations have been admittedly made.

“Marami sa mga kababayan natin ang hirap na hirap na. Huwag nating hayaan na dumagdag pa sa pasakit ng nakararami ang pagiging pasaway ng iilan. Paalala lang, kung gusto ninyo isugal ang buhay ninyo, huwag niyo idamay ang kapwa ninyo kasi buong health system natin apektado kapag maraming nagkasakit,” said Go.

“Marami namang sumusunod ngayon — yung gustong mabuhay pa. Pero mayroon lang iilan dyan na matigas ang ulo na ayaw ng maka antay ng pagbabalik sa dating normal,” he added.

Go emphasized that such incidents must serve as a wake-up call for all Filipinos to strictly comply with health protocols, especially now that cases of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, have been reported in the country.

“Magsilbi po sanang leksyon ito sa ating lahat. Hindi po tayo dapat magkumpiyansa dahil nandito pa ang COVID-19. Nandito na rin ang bagong variant nito na sinasabing mas contagious kumpara sa old variant,” Go advised.

“Mag-ingat po tayo at maging responsableng mamamayan. Ang simpleng pagsunod sa patakaran ay makapagliligtas ng buhay ng iba,” he added.

As the government targets to immediately start its vaccination program, Go continued to stress the need to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety protocols imposed by the government to stop the further spread of COVID-19.

Earlier, Go said that the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant should be a cause for concern as he urged concerned government agencies to closely monitor developments before deciding to relax restrictions further.

“Binabalanse naman po ng gobyerno ang lahat, lalung-lalo na po itong pagbubukas dahil talagang marami pong nagsara na negosyo na kailangan na ring magbukas. Binabalanse po ng ating mga government finance managers ang lahat. Pero para sa akin po, buhay ng bawat Pilipino ang pinakaimportante sa akin,” he said.

“Ang susi rito ay bakuna. Hindi pa nga tayo nakapag-uumpisa ng bakuna, eh luluwagan na natin. Maghahabulan na naman tayo kapag kumalat ‘yang new variant na ‘yan,” Go added.

Go emphasized that cooperating with authorities can save lives as he warned those who will attempt to violate or go around protocols that the government will not tolerate such actions.

“Patuloy ang aking pagpapaalala sa ating mga kababayan na ang inyong kooperasyon at pagmamalasakit ay makapagliligtas ng buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino,” he said.

“Habang sinisikap natin na makakuha ng sapat, ligtas at epektibong bakuna para sa lahat, lalo na para sa frontliners, mga mahihirap, at parte ng vulnerable sectors, hikayatin rin natin ang ating komunidad na patuloy na magbayanihan at sumunod sa mga patakaran upang tuluyang maitigil ang pagkalat ng sakit,” he added.

Bong Go calls for greater unity ahead of vaccine rollout

*vows officials will be held accountable for any corrupt or negligent action

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go issued an appeal for unity among the country’s top elected and appointed officials to help build the confidence of more Filipinos in the COVID-19 vaccine roadmap, and trust in the experts who are working tirelessly to secure sufficient, safe and effective vaccines for the people.

“Madaming oras na ang nasasayang sa pagdududa and it is taking its toll on our vaccine program. Kawawa po ang frontliners. Kawawa ang mga mahihirap nating mga kababayan,” Go said in a recent statement.

“Nakikiusap lang ako — alang-alang sa kapakanan ng lahat ng mga Pilipino — na magkaisa na tayo. Iisa lang naman ang hangarin natin at iyan ang malampasan ang pandemya at maiahon ang ating mga kababayan mula sa kahirapan,” he stressed.

The Senator, who presently serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Health, emphasized the importance of time in successfully implementing the vaccine roadmap.

He appealed to everyone concerned to give meaning to the deaths of the victims and honor the sacrifices of the frontliners by saving the lives of others as the country’s pandemic death toll passes the 10,000 mark.

“Ilan pa bang kababayan natin ang kailangang magkasakit o mamatay sa COVID-19? Let us focus on what needs to be done. Kaysa kumwestyon, tumulong tayo sa pag-aksyon,” he continued.

Go made clear in his statement his support for the calls for transparency while also calling for due consideration of the officials who are conducting negotiations for government.

“While I support our call for transparency, we should also be considerate to our hardworking officials. They are answering our queries while simultaneously trying to focus on what they are primarily mandated to do in this time of crisis —- which is to secure sufficient vaccines, with proven safety and efficacy, at the right price,” he stressed.

“As we move forward, I continue to appeal to our leaders — for the sake of the country, for the sake of the poor Filipino people, magkaisa po tayo para hindi na maantala ang rollout ng vaccines at makabalik na tayong lahat sa normal na pamumuhay,” he appealed.

He expressed concern for the impact the criticisms may have on the officials who have been entrusted with the difficult task of obtaining a sufficient supply of vaccines for the people amid competing global demands.

“Sa bawat oras po na ating sinasayang sa pagdududa, buhay po ang nakataya. Let us trust our government officials and health experts because they are doing what is best for the country and our people,” said Go.

The Senator assured every one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment in ensuring the integrity of the procurement process, and vowed that any public official found neglecting their duties or being unethical in conduct would be strictly held accountable for their actions.

“They (public officials) will be held accountable for their actions and they know the extent of their responsibilities. Kapag naamoy ni Pangulo na merong korapsyon — kahit utot lang ng anomalya maamoy niya — sigurado sibak ‘yan,” he said.

On this note, Go reiterated his call to the public to trust the national government when it comes to the procurement and subsequent rollout of the vaccines.

To encourage them, the Senator had issued repeated requests to Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. to conduct a nationwide information campaign to explain the national vaccine roadmap to the public. He also urged the agencies involved to be transparent and prudent on their part in using the country’s limited resources.

“Magtiwala po tayo. Magbayanihan po tayo. Magkaisa po tayo para sa kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino,” he reiterated.

Bong Go files bill to defer PhilHealth contribution hike

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, on Wednesday, January 20, filed Senate Bill No. 2000 which seeks to grant the President of the Philippines the authority to suspend the scheduled increase in the premium contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

“Mag-focus muna tayo kung paano matutulungan ang mga kababayan nating nangangailangan dahil sa COVID-19 crisis. Sa panahon ngayon, kailangan nating isaalang-alang muna ang pangangailangan nila,” said Go

“Lalo na ngayon na nasa health emergency ang bansa, nawawalan ng kakayahan ang mga Pilipinong magbigay ng dagdag na kontribusyon dahil sa krisis. Sabi nga nila, in this time of crisis, every single peso counts!” he added.

In line with this, Go has urged the national government to shoulder first the necessary funding to implement the Universal Health Care Law while majority of Filipinos are still overcoming the adverse effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their livelihoods and the whole economy.

“Huwag na natin munang dagdagan ang pasakit ng taumbayan. Kung kaya naman, ang gobyerno muna ang sumalo sa kailangang pondo ng PhilHealth para maimplementa ng maayos ang Universal Health Care Law,” Go urged.

SBN 2000 authorizes the President to suspend, upon the recommendation of the PhilHealth Board, the increase in premium contributions when public interest so requires, such as times of national or public health emergencies. The increase and all succeeding increases shall be implemented in the year following the cessation of the emergency.

In March 2020, PhilHealth issued Circular No. 2020-005 which provides for a new schedule of contributions mandated under Republic Act No. 11223 or the UHC Act.

Mandatory PhilHealth contributions are set to increase annually from 2020 to 2025 until they reach 5% of the monthly income. Direct contributors were to pay a fixed monthly premium of P350 to P2,450 depending on their monthly income starting January 1, 2021.

Employee contributions will be shared equally by the employee and employer. Meanwhile, self-paying members, professional practitioners, land-based migrant workers, and other direct contributors with no employee-employer relationship shall shoulder the full amount.

To ensure people’s continued access to affordable health coverage, Go earlier issued an urgent call to government finance managers and his fellow legislators to defer the scheduled increase in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse impacts on the jobs and livelihoods of Filipinos.

He emphasized that “government, as a whole, must do its best to unburden Filipinos by shouldering the cost while ensuring that the Universal Health Care Law is implemented and the services of PhilHealth are unhampered.”

“Palagi naming inuuna ni Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte kung ano ang makakabuti sa nakararami, lalo na sa mga mahihirap at pinaka-nangangailangan. Kung kaya’t nagsalita na ang Pangulo na ipagpaliban muna ang pag-increase ng rates ng contributions ng PhilHealth habang meron pa tayong pandemyang kinakaharap,” said Go.

“Sinabi niya na kung may maipapasang batas ang Lehislatibo na naglalayong ipatupad ang deferment, o kung may kailangang aprubahan na dagdag na pondo mula sa gobyerno para hindi maantala ang serbisyo ng PhilHealth, pipirmahan niya ito pagkatapos mapag-aralan nang mabuti,” he continued.

In response, the state insurance agency expressed their support for the President and his decision in a statement issued on January 5. It announced it would continue to use the 3% contributions rate as opposed to the 3.5%.

PhilHealth also committed to work closely with the Houses of Congress to find a “whole-of-government and whole-of-nation solution” to the issue.

“Should there be no new legislation passed for this purpose, the state health insurer will proceed with the scheduled premium rate and ceiling as provided for in the UHC law,” the Philhealth said.

“Cognizant of the fortuitous situation that ravaged so many lives and derailed the economy, PhilHealth will do its part in alleviating the lives of Filipinos especially insofar as their health is concerned,” the statement continued.

SBG appeals to fellow lawmakers to trust gov’t

MANIFESTATION OF SEN. CHRISTOPHER ‘BONG’ GO DURING THE SENATE REGULAR SESSION
18 January 2021

Re: COVID-19 VACCINES

Mr. President, just a short manifestation in relation to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s privilege speech. First of all, I wish to commend my colleagues for our collective effort to help the government and our people in overcoming the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This is a testament that through our bayanihan efforts, we can recover as one!

In view of some questions regarding the actual final prices, if any, of vaccines against COVID-19, I urge the agencies involved to be transparent and prudent in using our limited resources.

I trust that our Vaccine Czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez, will always uphold the interest of the Filipino people when negotiating for our vaccines. After all, these procurements by the national government are done through multi-lateral agreements with fund managers, such as the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

Magtiwala po tayo sa ating gobyerno. I am personally aware na bago pa man nagsimula sa social media ang mga kuro-kuro at haka-haka, masusi na po ang pagtrabaho ng mga opisyal ng ating pamahalaan to get the best for our country and for every Filipino.

The President’s commitment has never changed – this administration will do everything to ensure that the national vaccination program – from approval to rollout and implementation – is safe, sure and secure.

Para kay Pangulong Duterte, ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng bawat Pilipino ay nasa sentro ng programa natin. Ito ang responsibilidad na ginagampanan natin palagi. Our officials will be measured by their adherence to the President’s guidance.

Mr. President, intindihin po natin na ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat para makakuha ng sapat na supply ng ligtas at epektibong mga bakuna. May sinusunod rin tayong mga patakaran at proseso sa negosasyon at kasama na diyan ang mga Non-Disclosure Agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

Nevertheless, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, let me remind the national government that they are still mandated to ensure proper and full accounting of public funds used and these should be disclosed to the public at the proper time without compromising the ongoing negotiations.

I urge Vaccine Czar Secretary Galvez to explain the process further without compromising ongoing efforts to procure and administer as many vaccines as needed for our people. And out of transparency, maybe we can ask him if he can disclose the prices at the appropriate time to allay any doubts of the public, not only of Sinovac, but of all vaccines.

I continue my appeal to concerned authorities to expedite the process of acquiring vaccines and collaborate with the private sector and LGUs for the proper implementation of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap.

Huwag na nating pahirapan pa dahil lahat naman tayo nagmamadali dito. ‘Yun po ang inaantay natin para unti-unti na tayo makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay. Let us work together to ensure that no Filipino is left behind in the road towards recovery.

Siguraduhing dapat na bawat piso ng pondo ng bayan ay hindi nasasayang, lalo na sa panahon ng krisis. Siguraduhin din nating makakabenepisyo ito sa lahat, kung kaya’t patuloy ang aking paalala na unahin dapat ang mga mahihirap, mga bahagi ng vulnerable sectors, at mga frontliners, lalo na sa mga malalayong lugar na hindi nga po alam kung ano itong vaccine at saan ito kukunin.

To those spreading misinformation and taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of Filipinos during these challenging times, I also appeal to you to join the ‘bayanihan’ efforts instead.

Tulad ng sabi ko noong Biyernes, kung walang katapusan ang pagdududa, as legislators, why don’t we legislate a law, not only to prepare for adverse events, but also against those who are taking advantage of the situation — para guarded lahat at may penalties po. Ikulong o isama natin sa death penalty — ‘yung mga nangsasamantala dyan at nagkakalat ng maling impormasyon, dapat po kayo ang unang turukan — by lethal injection!

Ang importante po, sana ay maumpisahan na po ang roll out at maturukan na po ang mga Pilipino ng safe na vaccine. Mas lalong matatagalan ito dahil merong pagdududa. Kawawa naman po ang ating frontliners. Kawawa naman po ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan, sila po ang apektado dito kung lalong matatagalan pa.

Magtulungan na lang po tayo. Magbayanihan na lang tayo, mga kapatid kong Pilipino. Magtulungan na lang po tayo.

Maraming salamat, Mr. President.

Bong Go sends help to community affected by diarrhea outbreak in Davao Occidental

On Tuesday, January 5, an outreach team from the Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go traversed swollen rivers, rocky tracks, and landslide-prone roads to deliver immediate assistance to the victims of a diarrhea outbreak in Jose Abad Santos in Davao Occidental.

“Patuloy po kaming umiikot para makapagbigay ng konting tulong sa mga nangangailangan. Nais naming iparamdam sa inyo na nandito ang inyong gobyerno na nagmamalasakit at handang maglingkod sa bawat Pilipino,” Go said in a video call.

Go continues to discharge his duties to constituents around the country, especially to ordinary Filipinos affected by natural disasters and other unforeseen incidents such as disease outbreaks. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, he assured the public that his office is ready to respond to their health-related needs on top of his duties as a legislator.

“As I have said numerous times, I will not limit myself to serving as a Senator only. Bilang public servant, magseserbisyo po ako sa inyo kahit saan man kayo sa mundo para tugunan ang inyong mga suliranin, pakinggan ang inyong mga hinaing, at mag-iwan ng ngiti sa oras ng inyong pagdadalamhati,” Go reiterated.

“Para sa amin, walang tulog ang serbisyo, lalo na sa oras ng inyong pangangailangan. Kahit anumang problema ang inyong hinaharap — nasunugan, tinamaan ng lindol, apektado ng pagputok ng bulkan, nabahaan, lahat ng klaseng krisis — handa akong tumulong at maserbisyo sa inyo sa abot ng aking makakaya,” he added.

Go’s team provided meals, food packs, vitamins, medical-grade and reusable masks, and face shields to a total of 71 beneficiaries, including 31 patients admitted at the Jose Abad Santos District Hospital. The activities were carried out in strict compliance with health and safety protocols.

Selected patients also received new shoes while some members of the hospital staff were also provided with bicycles so they can commute with ease despite limited public transportation options. Other select recipients with children were given tablets to help them in their studies.

“I am very happy na pinakauna na tumugon sa mga panawagan ng Jose Abad Santos ay ang pinakamabait na senator natin na si Senator Bong Go,” said town Mayor Jason John Joyce.

“Personal niya akong tinawagan sa unang araw na pumutok ang balita about the outbreak and, after two days, nakarating na dito sa pinakamalayong munisipyo sa Pilipinas … ang grupo ni Senator Go at President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” the Mayor narrated.

“Gusto namin iparating ang aming sinsero at malaking pasasalamat kay Senator Go at Presidente Duterte dahil hindi nila pinabayaan ang mga taga-Jose Abad Santos,” Joyce added.

For his part, Senator Go urged everyone to take better care of their health and well-being and to observe the necessary precautions against COVID-19. The Senator vowed that the government would prioritize the poor and vulnerable sectors, as well as frontliners, once a safe and effective vaccine has been declared by the Food and Drug Administration and made available to the public.

Furthermore, Go offered to help those in need of medical attention, especially when it comes to surgeries and operations not available in the province. He also informed them that they can conveniently avail medical assistance from the government at any Malasakit Center nearest to them, including those in the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital in Digos City and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

In addition to the above aid, representatives of several national agencies, likewise, took part in the activity as part of the national government’s ongoing efforts to assist those adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development distributed separate financial assistance, so the patients could purchase their daily needs. The Department of Agriculture provided seedlings. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, in turn, offered livelihood training, and the Philippine Red Cross gave them water tester kits, hygiene kits, and jerry cans for water storage.

On top of these, the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Trade and Industry committed to extend further alternative livelihood assistance upon completing their assessments.

In recognition of their continuing commitment to serve their community, Go expressed his gratitude to Mayor Joyce, Vice Mayor James John Joyce, Annie Firman from the Office of Representative Lorna B. Bandigan, Chief of Hospital Dr. Mary Christine Daligdig, DA Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer Ray Reintar, DOLE Davao Occidental Field Office Head Engr. Mario Sinajon, DSWD SWAD team leader Boy Fernandez, TESDA Provincial Director Engr. Alfredo Panuela Jr., and Red Cross Davao Del Sur Chapter Service Representative Regina Palma, among others.

“Patuloy akong tutulong, lalong lalo na sa mga mahihirap. Bisyo ko ang magserbisyo. Tuloy dapat ang serbisyo lalo na sa panahong hirap na hirap na ang mga kapwa nating Pilipino. Gagawin po natin ang lahat sa abot ng ating makakaya para magbigay ng tulong. Hindi po namin kayo pababayaan,” vowed the Senator.