Law enforcement agencies urged to improve coordination efforts after PNP-PDEA shootout

Bong Go says his heart bleeds for those who lost their lives

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, to improve inter-agency coordination after a recent encounter between the operatives and personnel of the two agencies resulted in the death of four people.

“Importante po dito ang koordinasyon dahil puro naman ‘yan magkakakilala. So dapat ang close coordination between law enforcement agencies ay paigtingin pa po,” Go said during his monitoring visit of the Malasakit Center in Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Pangasinan on Friday, February 26.

He said that if a law is needed to institutionalize better coordination between PNP and PDEA, he is willing to support such measure to prevent similar unfortunate incidents from happening in the future.

“Kung kailangan ng batas, I am willing to support. ‘Wag lang po mangyari ang mga ganitong aksidente,” he said.

The Senator lamented the violent incident, saying that drug criminals are now mocking law enforcers over it. He added that his heart and President Rodrigo Duterte’s “bleed” for the killed law enforcers.

“Tumatawa po ang mga durugista na ito. Hindi po ang PDEA o law enforcer ang dapat nakabulagta doon. Ang dapat pong nakabulagta doon, ‘yung mga drug dealer,” Go said.

“Kung sila po ang nakabulagta doon sa sahig, ako mismo ang papalakpak ‘pag drug lord at drug dealer ang nakabulagta doon. Pero pag pulis o PDEA ang nakabulagta, nagdurugo ang puso namin ni Pangulong Duterte,” he added.

Go shared that President Duterte has already ordered the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation to take charge of the investigation.

“Inatasan na po ni Pangulong Duterte ang NBI na mag-imbestiga at lumabas ang katotohanan at para malaman ng publiko ang katotohanan, malaman ng pamilya ng mga biktima ng unfortunate incident na ‘yun ang katotohanan,” Go said.

“Kailangan natin malaman ang katotohanan para ‘di na po mangyaring muli ang napakasakit na unfortunate incident na ito na napakasakit pong isipin na puro pa law enforcement agencies ang nagbabarilan,” he added.

The PNP and PDEA have also both sent their representatives to a joint investigation by a board inquiry to find out why PDEA agents and police officers engaged in a gunfight near a mall in Quezon City Wednesday night. The agencies also promised that those found responsible for the incident will be prosecuted.

Two police personnel, a PDEA agent and a PDEA informer were killed in the shootout, while an officer and three PDEA agents were wounded.

PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas and PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva have described the incident as “the saddest day in the history of drug law enforcement.”

Go then asked the public to wait for the results of the investigations. “Hintayin po natin ang resulta dahil ito po ay unfortunate na incident.”

“Hindi natin inakala na mangyayari at ‘di natin inaasahan na mangyayari dahil ito po ay dalawang law enforcement agencies na lumalaban sa droga,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go continues to express his support for law enforcers. “Kami po ni Pangulo, full support kami sa pulis, full support kami sa PDEA. Kapag nagkakaso sila in line of duty, susuportahan namin sila. Ayoko na po magbigay ng komento. Hintayin na po natin (ang resulta ng imbestigasyon).”

PRRD, Bong Go inspect storm-hit areas in Surigao del Sur; assure immediate and holistic response from government to help affected communities build back better

President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, February 23, visited Tandag City in Surigao del Sur after its communities were severely hit by the massive flooding caused by the heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Auring last Sunday.

During their visit, initial relief assistances were distributed to affected communities after they conducted an aerial inspection of the region and attended a situation briefing on the aftermath of the storm.

Go had earlier shared with the media about the said visit during an ambush interview after he personally visited and distributed assistance to 413 typhoon victims in Pulilan, Bulacan. “Pupuntahan po namin ni Pangulong Duterte mismo kung saan ang baha doon sa Tandag,” Go said.

“Magpapatawag po siya ng situation briefing at magbibigay po kami ng tulong sa mga kababayan natin. Magbibigay rin tayo ng solusyon sa mga problema nila at mag-iiwan ng ngiti sa panahon ng kanilang pagdadalamhati,” Go said.

During the situation briefing, Duterte instructed concerned agencies to immediately and holistically respond to the needs of affected communities. The President also stressed that he does not want local government officials to have to go to Metro Manila to personally do the follow-up.

Cabinet Secretaries were also asked to send respective representatives to Surigao del Sur within the week to assess the total damage of the typhoon and ensure that delivery of public services is unhampered. The Office of Civil Defense, as lead of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, will consolidate all actions to be taken by government agencies.

Moreover, the Department of Transportation committed to install runway lights after the construction and improvements of Tandag Airport while the Department of Public Works and Highways will coordinate with Surigao del Sur LGU regarding the needed equipment for the construction of barangay roads. The Philippine National Police also committed to ensure peace and order in the area as well as continuously address concerns of insurgencies.

Auring, the first storm in 2021, brought floodwaters in Surigao del Sur which inundated houses and communities, displacing almost 10,000 families or around 30,650 individuals, according to the provincial disaster response officials.

On February 22, Tandag City Mayor Roxanne Cabrera-Pimentel said that she would ask the city council to declare a state of calamity in the city following the disaster that caused PhP60 million worth of damage on the province’s rice farms alone.

In December last year, Surigao del Sur was also hit by Tropical Depression Vicky, causing heavy flooding and leaving three dead and two missing persons. In January, Go, during a series of aid distribution activities, extended various forms of aid to thousands of victims in the province as part of his commitment to continue helping communities affected by crises recover more quickly and build back better.

Go also reiterated his call for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience to ensure quick response and proactive and holistic approach in preparing for calamities and other natural disasters.

Last 2019, Go filed Senate Bill No. 205, also known as the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019. A second committee hearing had already been conducted by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security. The House of Representatives earlier passed its own counterpart last September of last year.

“Sa pagtatag ng departamentong ito, mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan at mas maiibsan ang masamang epekto ng mga kalamidad. Sa tulong nito, mas mabilis ding makakabangon ang ating mga kababayan pagkatapos ng mga sakuna,” he added.

If passed into law, the DDR will consolidate the essential functions of all disaster-related agencies into a single department. This allows for a more aggressive, concerted approach toward disaster risk reduction as well as the faster and more efficient delivery of services during crises and faster recovery and rehabilitation.

Following PRRD’s move to certify vaccine indemnity fund bill as urgent, Bong Go seeks speedy passage of the measure

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go is hopeful that the Senate will be able to pass Senate Bill No. 2057 within a week after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the proposed bill as urgent. The measure seeks to establish a vaccine indemnity fund and fast-track the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Kami naman po, handa kaming talakayin ito at maipasa na kaagad… isa rin po ito sa mga requirements ng mga suppliers (ng bakuna mula) sa ibang bansa,” Go said during an ambush interview right after he assisted flood victims in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte on Saturday, February 20.

Co-sponsored by Go, SB 2057 aims to hasten the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by allowing local government units to procure vaccines and make advance payments, and to include an indemnification fund to cover the possible expenses and claims arising from adverse effects of the vaccines.

SB 2057 proposes the creation of a COVID-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund which will be administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and will be sourced from the 2021 national budget’s Contingent Fund.

“Kaya tayo naiipit dahil maraming mga requirements (sa pagkuha ng bakuna)… na hinihingi ng mga manufacturers dahil takot po sila, dahil rin sa nangyari sa Dengvaxia, na sila po ang babalikan at sila ang idedemanda,” Go said.

“So, tayo naman, kami bilang mambabatas, at ang Executive naman po, is working hand in hand para po mapabilis ‘yung proseso at dumating na po ‘yung bakuna,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go continues to encourage Filipinos to trust the government and COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to boost public vaccine confidence.

“I encourage my fellow Filipinos, magtiwala po tayo sa gobyerno, magtiwala po tayo sa ginagawang bakuna ng mga manufacturers,” urged Go.

“Hindi naman po bibili ang ating gobyerno kung mayro’n pong diperensya ‘yan. Eh ‘yun lang po ang ating susi para unti-unti tayong makabalik sa ating normal na pamumuhay katulad noon,” he added.

Go said that trust in the government and concerned officials is necessary for the country to finally recover from the pandemic.

“Kung gusto n’yong bumalik sa normal ang ating pamumuhay, magtiwala po tayo sa gobyerno. Magtiwala tayo kay Pangulong Duterte, magtiwala tayo kay Secretary (Carlito) Galvez at ginagawa naman po ng gobyerno ang lahat sa abot po ng ating makakaya, para sa Pilipino,” he ended.

DOLE responds to Bong Go’s appeal to help displaced school workers, provides assistance to private school teachers and staff

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed updates from the Department of Labor and Employment on the status of the financial assistance application of displaced workers from the Federation of Associations of Private Schools Administrators (FAPSA) member-institutions which the Senator helped to facilitate last year amid the pandemic.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa DOLE sa kanilang agarang aksyon upang mabigyan kaagad ng assistance ang mga displaced workers mula sa private schools,” Go said.

“Malaking tulong po ito hindi lamang sa kanila kundi sa kanilang buong pamilya ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” he added.

As of February 19, a total of 113,501 workers in the private education sector from 2,785 establishments have applied for the financial assistance nationwide under DOLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP). Out of the 59,715 target beneficiaries of the program, 45,714 workers have already received their financial assistance via payment centers, which puts their utilization rate of the PhP300 million CAMP budget for educational institutions at 76%.

“Sumulat po sa akin si FAPSA President Eleazardo Kasilag at nabanggit niya sa akin na maraming mga teachers ang apektado dahil sa COVID-19 at, sabi ko, hindi ako nangako that time, sabi ko, gagawan namin ng paraan sa abot ng aming makakaya,” Go said.

“Marami pong nawalan ng trabaho. ‘Yung mga enrollees — mga estudyante mahigit sa kanila naglilipatan sa public school at ‘yung mga estudyante sa private school, balita ko ay more or less nasa 50% na lang dahil hirap tayo sa panahong ito,” he continued.

In November 18 last year, Go also provided assistance to private school personnel belonging to FAPSA whose livelihood have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, Go urged Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III to lend more support to the country’s private school teachers after the passage of the Bayanihan 2 Act.

“Nakiusap po ako sa ating national government. Sabi ko, ako ang patuloy ninyong tulay sa ating Pangulo at sa national government kaya sinikap naming mabibigyan ang 60,000 private school teachers ng konting tulong,” he reiterated.

“May mga pamilya din ang mga private school teachers natin, napakalaki ng kanilang ginagampanang tungkulin bilang guro sa bansang ito. Nagtuturo ang mga ‘yan. Ang problema, may mga pamilya ‘yan na binubuhay at wala silang sahod dahil ang iba sa kanila ay nawalan ng trabaho,” he added.

“Magtulungan tayong gawing mas magaan ang pinapasan ng mga Pilipinong naghihirap ngayon. Gawin natin ang lahat para mas madali silang makabangon,” Go reiterated.

In a statement released in November last year, Kasilag thanked concerned agencies for uplifting the morale of private school teachers who are affected by the pandemic by extending them assistance.

According to Kasilag, some private school teachers, particularly those from small and newly established schools, have not been able to receive their salaries since March last year.

Meanwhile, the Senator, also chair of the Senate Committee on Health, pledged that he and President Rodrigo Duterte would prioritize frontliners, including teachers, once a vaccine against COVID-19 is available. He encouraged everyone to have hope and continues to do their part in helping the country battle the pandemic.

“Uunahin namin ang mga frontliners, mga sundalo, mga pulis and, of course, kayo pong mga teachers [dahil] maituturing na rin na frontliners kayo […] sa ngayon,” he said.

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Bong Go seeks to enhance medical services in far-flung areas; says gov’t to consider setting up snake bite center in Bukidnon

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said that he has already discussed with Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III the possible establishment of a snake bite center in Bukidnon after residents sought his help on the matter.

In an interview after personally leading the distribution of assistance to hundreds of Lumad residents and witnessing the turnover of a fire truck and a government grant to cooperatives in Kibawe, Bukidnon on Tuesday, February 16, Go said that the government is now considering setting up a snake bite center in the province after residents lamented that victims of snake bites have to be transported all the way to Cagayan de Oro City just to be treated. They also noted that some patients die along the way due to the long travel.

“Nakausap ko kagabi si Secretary Duque at pag-aralan nila ang posibilidad na maglagay ng snake bite center,” Go said.

Acknowledging the need to immediately treat victims of snake bites, Go expressed his willingness to provide assistance to them.

“Alam n’yo, mahirap ang snake bite kasi malayo ‘yung Cagayan (de Oro) at Malaybalay. Kailangan pa ito i-transfer,” he noted.

“May snake bite na medyo poisonous, critical ang oras na binibilang, so ngayon kung kailangan… handa po ako tumulong,” he added.

Reports of individuals being attacked by snakes have become frequent in Mindanao. In 2019, alarm was raised after dozens of king cobras were killed in the country. The Philippine Center for Terrestrial and Aquatic Research documented king cobras “killed or found dead” in several provinces, including Bukidnon.

Just last month, a baby reportedly died in San Isidro, Davao del Norte after being bitten by a snake. In 2020, a four-year-old girl died after being attacked by a king cobra in Barangay Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City.

A farmer in Davao del Sur was also killed in 2019 due to snake bites. Post-mortem examination revealed that the bite marks on the victim’s left forearms and left portion of the body may have been inflicted by a king cobra.

While awaiting the establishment of the snake bite centers, Go urged residents to seek assistance from Malasakit Centers located at Northern Mindanao Medical Center and JR Borja General Hospital, both in nearby Cagayan de Oro City for their medical concerns.

“May Malasakit Center naman tayo sa Cagayan, dalawa yan. Maglalagay din tayo sa Bukidnon at dagdag sa Davao din po. Sasaluhin po namin kayo kung kailangan kayo ma-admit,” Go assured.