Pakistani arrested for illegal firearm

A Pakistani national was arrested by the authorities in Davao City on Wednesday, February 17, for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

Elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 11 conducted Oplan Paglalansag Omega by virtue of a search warrant against ine Zahir Faroq.

The police searched the residence of Faroq in Sitio Sta. Marina, Brgy. Binugao, Toril District, Davao City around 10 in the morning.

The search warrant was issued by Hon. EMMANUEL CARPIO, Executive Judge, RTC, 11th Judicial Region.

Confiscated from Faroq’s possession and control were the following :

a. One (1) unit. 45 caliber COLT with Serial number 324597;
b. five (5) pcs cal. .45 live Ammunition;
c. One (1) pc black slingbag; and
d. One (1) Magazine.

The Pakistani national was brought to the CIDG office for booking and documentation and turned over to Toril Police Station 8 for his detention.

Bong Go says members of the media must also be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines, cites need to boost public confidence in the vaccines

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, February 16, said that members of the media should also be considered in the priority list of the government’s national COVID-19 vaccination program without prejudice to other sectors already identified as priorities, such as frontliners as well as poor and vulnerable sectors.

In an interview after the turnover of a fire truck and a government grant to cooperatives in Kibawe, Bukidnon, Go said that the reporters are also like frontliners who risk their safety on the field just to keep Filipinos informed on the country’s COVID-19 situation.

“Ang mga media para sa akin po ay maituturing din pong napakaimportanteng sektor ng lipunan dahil para na rin po kayong frontliners dahil kayo ang nagdadala ng balita, kung ano ang dapat gawin sa lugar, kayo ang na-expose,” Go said.

“So, dapat po ang media ay bigyan din ng prayoridad ‘pag andyan na ang safe at epektibong vaccine para tuloy-tuloy din po ang inyong pagtatrabaho, pagko-cover at pagdadala ng balita sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.

As the Philippines aims to start rolling out vaccines against COVID-19 soon, President Rodrigo Duterte was urged by Go and officials of the National Task Force against COVID-19 to certify as urgent a measure seeking to expedite procurement of vaccines by LGUs and establish a vaccine indemnity fund. Also on Tuesday, Go delivered during the regular Senate plenary session his co-sponsorship speech for the Senate Bill No. 2057.

The proposed Vaccine Indemnification Fund is intended to be earmarked exclusively to compensate and indemnify identified vaccine recipients who sustain injury in connection with the use of the vaccines and where the adverse effects are attributable to the vaccination.

According to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., all vaccine manufacturers require indemnity and liability frameworks, which include setting up an indemnification fund backed by legislation to safeguard them from possible damage suits. They have informed the NTF that without legislation covering indemnification, they may not be able to supply the vaccine.

Galvez also said that immunization could start between late February or in March, when the first batch of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the country.

Meanwhile, Go said that he is willing to be vaccinated in public along with President Duterte to allay the fears of the public over the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Kami ni Pangulong Duterte, handa kami sabay na magpabakuna, hindi po dahil kami (ay opisyales), pero bilang mga opisyales ay ipakita natin sa publiko at makuha natin ang kumpiyansa ng bawat Pilipino na safe at epektibo po itong vaccine na binibili po ng gobyerno,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Go said that Duterte will get vaccinated in public upon the approval of his physician in an effort to boost the vaccine confidence of Filipinos.

“Nagkausap na rin kami ni Pangulong Duterte. Plano na rin n’yang magpabakuna kung pumayag na po ang kanyang doktor at dapat po itong isa-publiko para makuha po ang kumpiyansa ng mga Pilipino para magpabakuna ang iba,” Go said.

“Kasi, kadalasan sa ngayon ay nagtuturuan. Gusto magpabakuna, ayaw nila mauna. So, sino ang dapat mauna, ‘yung mga opisyales natin,” he added.

As public servants, Go also mentioned that he and Duterte are willing to serve as examples to get the confidence of the Filipinos on COVID-19 vaccines.

“Alam n’yo, not because kaming mga opisyales ay prayoridad sa bakuna. Hindi po dapat ‘yan. Pero bilang isang ehemplo, to get the confidence of the Filipino people, ang mga opisyales […] ay dapat po manguna sa pagpapabakuna,” he said.

Go said that Duterte is now just waiting for the clearance as to what type of vaccine will be inoculated to him.

“Ang inaantay na lang namin, ang clearance ng Pangulo kung anong klaseng vaccine ang ituturok sa kanya dahil iba’t ibang klase ng vaccine. May Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm,” Go said.

“‘Yun po ang pinag-aaralan ng doktor ng Pangulo. ‘Di na po kwestyon kung bawal siyang bakunahan, ang kwestyon na lang po ay kung anong bakuna po,” he ended.

DOFil gains further support as Bong Go reiterates need to protect Filipinos overseas

*While creating more economic opportunities for all here in the country

The measure proposed by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go providing for the establishment of a department which will cater to the needs of overseas Filipinos has gained further support from various stakeholders and colleagues in government.

During a public hearing on Monday, February 15, conducted by the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, joint with Committees on Foreign Relations, Civil Service, and Finance, Senators and Cabinet officials expressed support for the establishment of the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) which seeks to streamline government services to overseas Filipinos under one department.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that the proposed DOFil will “streamline and directly manage all concerns of Filipinos overseas plus their families and dependents in the Philippines to make our services to OFs more responsive, efficient, and effective.”

“It will avoid overlapping functions and consolidate the budgetary allocations to a single public entity for a better and more efficient service to OFs and their families,” Nograles further explained during the hearing.

Nograles lamented that “the absence of a single agency to address these concerns is making it very challenging for the government to focus on the various needs and demands of Filipinos overseas.”

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also said that the agency fully supports the creation of the DOFil.

Senator Joel Villanueva, who presided the hearing, also expressed his support for the creation of the department, citing the sheer number of overseas Filipinos and their contribution to the economy.

“One in ten Filipinos lives overseas. Kung nasa isang bansa po ang lahat ng ating mga kababayang overseas Filipino, ito ang magiging 91st most populated sa buong mundo,” Villanueva noted.

“Noong 2019, umabot po ng P1.56 trillion ang kabuuang cash remittances ng mga overseas Filipinos. Ito ‘yung pinadaan sa bangko at remittance centers. Mas malaki pa ang halaga kung kasama ang perang personal na inuwi o ‘ipinakisuyo’ kay kabayang umuwi sa Pilipinas,” he added.

These facts alone, according to Villanueva, warrant the creation of a department mandated to look after overseas Filipino workers worldwide.

Go has echoed this in his previous statements, saying, “Ang gusto natin ay hindi na kailangan mangibang bansa ang mga Pilipino para mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya. Kaya po nakalagay sa ating batas that the State shall continuously aim to make overseas employment as a last resort and not a necessity for every Filipino citizen.”

“Pero hindi rin natin maikakaila na sampung milyong Pilipino ang nasa abroad. Halos ten percent ng ating populasyon,” he said previously.

Meanwhile, Senator Ronald dela Rosa also said during the hearing that the creation of the DOFil will address the issue of illegal recruitment.

“Wala nang magiging ‘willing victim’ kapag alam nila na may departamento na para sa kanila,” dela Rosa said.

Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri also said that the government needs to provide more support for overseas Filipinos.

“Batid natin ang napakalaking tulong ng ating nga kababayan na nakikipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa. We are not doing enough to protect them,” he said.

During the hearing, Go issued a strong appeal urging support for the measure amid the struggles overseas Filipinos face caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other crisis situations abroad.

“Paano po natin masasabi na gumagana ang ating sistema eh sa tuwing ako po ay umiikot sa ating mga kababayan, paulit-ulit po ang kanilang mga hinaing? Sana po ay alalahanin natin na sila ang nangangailangan dito. Pakinggan po natin sila at intindihin natin kung saan po sila nanggagaling,” Go said.

“Nandito po tayo hindi para maghain lamang ng mga batas na hindi kailangan. Nandito po tayo para magbigay ng solusyon. Nakikiusap po ako sa ating mga kasamahan sa pagseserbisyo dito sa Senado. Help us craft this law and help us craft this in a way that would truly work and achieve its intended objectives,” appealed Go.

Senate Bill No. 1949 or the ‘Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2020’ is the third iteration of a bill he introduced in 2019 and represents the unified position of the Executive branch of government.

The bill has been certified as ‘urgent’ by President Duterte and is also one of the twenty priority measures identified by both chambers of the Congress for 2021.

Under the proposed measure, the department shall subsume and streamline all responsibilities pertaining to overseas employment and migration that are presently scattered among various departments and agencies. It will be primarily responsible for protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipinos, as well as managing and monitoring their employment abroad and reintegration once they return.

Notably, SBN 1949 also directs the implementation of a one country-team approach which shall require all officials in Philippine diplomatic posts to act together as one team, per country of assignment.

Earlier, Go emphasized that creating DOFil will not bloat the bureaucracy and is in line with the objectives of rightsizing and streamlining government functions.

“Matagal na ako sa serbisyo publiko. Mahigit dalawang dekada akong nanilbihan kay Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte. Alam ko na kung watak-watak ang mga ahensya, hindi ganoon kabilis at maayos ang serbisyo ng gobyerno,” Go noted previously.

“Mas maisasaayos ang mga programa at serbisyo ng gobyerno para matulungan ang mga apektadong Pilipino kung mayroong sariling departamento na mamamahala sa mga pangangailangan ng mga OFWs at iba pa nating kababayan abroad,” he added.

The department will also be responsible for providing social and welfare services, including legal assistance and insurance, to overseas Filipinos. It shall likewise administer reintegration programs and provide Assistance to Nationals (ATN) services, especially during national emergencies.

“Habang sinisikap nating bigyan sila ng mas maraming economic opportunities dito, huwag rin natin pabayaan ang karamihan sa kanila na may hinahaharap na iba’t ibang pagsubok sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa. Responsibilidad nating alagaan ang bawat Pilipino kahit asan man sila sa mundo,” the Senator appealed in his previous statement.

Davao City’s First District Office extends aid to fire victims in Brgy. 76-A Bucana

DAVAO CITY – Over 20 victims of a fire incident received their cash aid and rice packs from the Office of the First Congressional District on Thursday afternoon at Kasilak Gym, Barangay 76-A Bucana of this city.

Representative Paolo Duterte’s office distributed cash and rice packs to the 27 families affected of the recent fire incident at Purok 13-B. Of the 27 families, 10 are house owners, five sharers, six renters and six boarders.

All victims are temporarily sheltered at the Kasilak Gymnasium in the barangay. Initial report said that around 20 houses were gutted by fire leaving the victims homeless at the moment. Local government validates the affected families.

The barangay, in behalf of the victims, expressed their gratitude to the first congressional district office, especially to the young congressman, for the immediate response to the needs of the fire victims amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The district office has been providing cash assistance and food packs not only to its constituents, but also to other areas of the city where people are also in need of assistance like families/people affected of the pandemic and other emergency incidents.

First batch of OFWs victimized in Syria successfully repatriated

* Bong Go calls on gov’t to protect Filipinos from human trafficking, renews push for DOFil

After a grueling battle for repatriation, six Filipino migrants who were victims of human trafficking in Syria, safely returned to the Philippines on Saturday, February 7, following support and assistance from President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and other concerned government agencies.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami kay Pangulong Duterte at Senator Bong Go dahil napakalaki ng tulong ng ibinigay nila para sa pagsisimulang muli namin ng buhay sa bansa,” said one of the migrant workers whose name could not he disclosed at this time given the ongoing case.

“Maliban po sa tulong, naramdaman naming hindi kami iniwan ng pamahalaan, lalo na nina Pangulong Duterte at Senator Go,” they added.

Aside from official government aid, Go’s office also extended additional assistance to the OFWs and their families.

“Parte po ito ng kalinga at malasakit programs para sa ating OFWs na suportado namin ni Pangulong Duterte,” said Go.

He also said that the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking or IACAT is working with the victims so trafficking cases can be filed against the perpetrators.

“Dapat lamang po na papanagutin ang mga human traffickers na ito dahil mga salot sila sa ating OFWs. Hirap na hirap na nga ang mga kababayan natin, may mga nangsasamantala at nambibiktima pa,” he said.

“Ayaw ko talagang makitang merong mga OFWs natin na naaabuso, lalo na nasa malalayong lugar sila. Sa mga nang-aabuso ng kapwa tao, dapat sa inyo putulan ng…!,” he exclaimed.

The IACAT has launched last year the digitized Integrated Case Management System to manage and ensure coordinated government action against the trafficking of OFWs.

The OFWs, repatriated through Etihad Airlines, included six out of 35 migrant workers in Syria who were victims of human trafficking. They were welcomed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Undersecretary of Migrant Workers Affairs, the Presidential Management Staff, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Office of Senator Go.

The Office of the President and DFA provided financial and other forms of assistance to the repatriated OFWs. The Office of Senator Go also extended aid and vowed to provide additional support.

According to the information posted by the Philippine Embassy in Syria, the services of Syrian lawyers were already engaged to file cases against the individuals reportedly behind the trafficking of OFWs in the country. Other victims are being processed at this time so they can also be repatriated back home.

The embassy also expressed its concern on several matters related to the repatriation of trafficked Filipinos, such as securing an exit visa from their ‘kafeel’ or employer even after paying already for their flight and fines imposed by the Syrian immigration office.

Some of the victims, according to reports, have been in the embassy facility for as long as two years because they cannot secure exit visas and airfares back to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the DFA is currently conducting an administrative investigation against certain officers and personnel of the embassy who reportedly failed to act on the concerns of the trafficking victims. DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. sent a new team to Syria to overhaul the personnel at the embassy.

Earlier, Go has expressed his grave concern over the reported trafficking of some Filipino women forcibly taken to Syria and abused by their employers, saying that this is one of the reasons why he is bent on pushing for the passage of a bill that will establish the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) that will better protect their rights and advance their welfare.

“Bagong bayani kung ituring natin sila na halos sampung porsiyento ng ating populasyon. Sana naman ay suklian natin nang mas maayos at mas mabilis na serbisyo ang kanilang sakripisyo para sa kanilang pamilya at sa bayan,” Go said in a statement.

The bill creating the DOFil is one of the priority measures of the present administration as mentioned numerous times by President Rodrigo Duterte, including in his last two State of the Nation Addresses. The President recently certified this most recent version filed by Go as urgent. It is also one of the top twenty priority measures identified by both houses of Congress this year.

“One of the main features of my proposed DOFil bill is the one country-team approach,” Go noted, stating that this requires all officials in Philippine diplomatic posts to act together as one team, regardless of their mother agencies, in the country of assignment, in protecting the rights and advancing the welfare of Filipino migrant workers there, with guidance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Foreign Service Posts.

The proposed department can also initiate and help prosecute human trafficking cases in coordination with the Department of Justice. Go added that overseas Filipinos in distress may swiftly be provided with assistance due to the one country-team approach.

“Kung in distress ang isang Pilipino abroad, kadalasan, hindi nila alam kung saan lalapit para humingi ng tulong. Minsan sa radyo, meron sa Facebook. Pero kung merong one country-team approach tayo, alam ng mga kababayan nating humihingi ng tulong kung saan pupunta,” he said.