The House of Representatives is set to do an inquiry on the Mindanao Railway Project’s (MRP) expropriation and acquisition of the road right of way.
In House Resolution No. 2321, Representatives Paolo Z. Duterte and Eric Go Yap called for the investigation, in aid of legislation, on the Department of Transportation’s Mindanao Railway Project in particular the Phase 1 of the said project.
Phase 1 of MRP covers a 105-kilometer line that covers Davao del Norte, Davao City and Davao del Sur with eight stations located in Tagum City, Carmen, Panabo City, Mudiang, Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos City.
The two congressmen said that they have received various reports about the “variations in the offers for acquisition of road right of way (RROW) or expropriation of the private properties by the DOTr and/or its contractors, sub-contractors, or other service providers.”
These variations in offers, Reps. Duterte and Yap said, have substantial discrepancies from the actual zonal value or fair market value of the properties affected.
The House inquiry aims to revisit existing laws and rules on the manner of acquisition of right of way and expropriation of private properties affected by government works, infrastructure, and other projects and to strengthen the same or come up with new and better mechanisms to ensure that all affected stakeholders, whether from the public or private sector, are adequately compensated and protected by applicable laws and rules.
In a phone interview Thursday, October 28, Rep. Duterte said they received information that some individuals were buying properties along the 105 kilometer line at a very low price and are selling it to DOTr at a higher price.
Added to this, the Dabawenyo congressman said, some landowners have also been opposing the construction of the railway project right smack at some of the existing subdivisions in Davao City.
The young Duterte said some of the affected barangays are planning on coming out with a resolution opposing the said project.
Phase 1 of the MRP has a budget of P35.91 billion.
Says he will always support and respect decision of Mayor Sara Duterte
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go continues to dispel rumors that he is clearing the way for another candidate to run in the 2022 elections, stressing that he is committed in his decision to seek the vice presidency.
During an interview right after the launch of the 145th Malasakit Center in the country at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Quezon City on Monday, October 25, Go was asked if a substitution for another candidate would be possible.
While the senator said that the subject is a matter for his party, PDP-Laban, to determine, Go emphasized that he is 100 percent committed to running for the vice presidency.
“Mayro’n po akong partido. So, ibig sabihin, hindi po ako makakadesisyon ng ako lang… hindi na nga tumakbo si Pangulong Duterte and it was the party’s decision na tumakbo po ako bilang Bise Presidente. At desisyon po ‘yon ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at iginagalang ko po ‘yon that is why I accepted the challenge,” said Go.
“So, depende na po ‘yon sa partido. Ako naman po ay 100 percent na po akong tatakbo… isa po akong public servant at ako po’y (nag-file na ng candidacy),” he added.
Earlier, Go said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to retire from politics prompted him to take on the challenge to run for vice president. He added that the ruling party, PDP-Laban, has been preparing for the elections and that someone must step forward for the party and the whole administration to continue its programs and pursue further the positive change that Duterte has started.
Meanwhile, when asked about Mayor Sara Duterte’s recent separate meetings with presidential aspirants Bongbong Marcos and Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, Go indicated that it is the prerogative of the younger Duterte and her party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, to meet with key leaders and possibly support certain candidates in the elections.
“Prerogative naman po ‘yan ni Mayor Sara kung sino ‘yung gusto n’yang kausapin at nirerespeto natin ‘yon. That’s part of our democratic process at mayro’n po siyang partido. Kami rin po mayro’n din kaming partido, ‘yung PDP-Laban, at nirerespeto namin ang isa’t isa,” said Go.
“So malaking bagay po ‘yon kung ano po ‘yung tulong na maibibigay ni Mayor Inday Sara Duterte at ng Hugpong ng Pagbabago sa isang kandidato, malaking bagay po ‘yon at atin po ‘yung nirerespeto. Part po ‘yon ng ating democratic process,” he added.
Go further said that if the mayor of Davao City had decided to run for president, he would have given her his complete support. He did emphasize, though, that he respects her decision not to run for president.
“Ginagalang ko po ang desisyon at pahayag ni Mayor Inday Sara Duterte at sabi ko naman po noon pa, noon pa from the very start kapag tumakbo po si Mayor Sara Duterte bilang pangulo, full support po ako at ikakampanya ko po. ‘Yon po ‘yung sinabi ko noon at pangako ko po ‘yan kay Mayor Inday Sara,” said Go.
“Hindi lang po kay Mayor Inday Sara, siyempre sa pamilya, malaking utang na loob ko po sa pamilya Duterte. So, kung tatakbo po siyang pangulo, full support po ako kay Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. Pero nirerespeto ko po ang kanyang desisyon na hindi po tumakbo bilang pangulo,” he ended.
While Bong Go pushes for increased support for agriculture sector
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go commended President Rodrigo Duterte for fulfilling his campaign promise to return the coconut levy fund to the nation’s coconut farmers during a meeting by the Joint National and Regional Task Forces on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City, Quezon province on Thursday, October 21.
During the meeting, President Duterte, Go, and other officials witnessed the handover of a copy of Republic Act No. 11524, also known as the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, which provides for the creation of a trust fund for the country’s coconut industry and its workers. The funds were recovered by the government nearly ten years ago after decades of litigation.
“Napakatagal hinintay ito ng ating mga coconut farmers. Napakaraming administrasyon ang nagdaan at ngayon lang ito napirmahan. Patunay ito sa malasakit ni Tatay Digong sa ating mga magsasaka,” said Go, who served as a co-author of the law in the Senate.
“Malaki ang maitutulong nito sa tuluy-tuloy na paglago ng coconut industry ng Pilipinas na isa sa pinakamalaki sa mundo. Maiaangat din nito ang kalidad ng produksyon at pamumuhay ng ating mga magsasaka. Patuloy sana natin suportahan ang ating mga magsasaka at tulungan natin silang malampasan ang paghihirap na dulot ng pandemya dahil ang sektor na ito ang bubuhay sa ating bansa,” he added.
Go participated in the deliberations of the proposed measure in the Senate plenary. The bill was finally passed and signed by President Duterte on February 26.
The new law specifically directs the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to craft the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan which will set the overall direction and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the industry within 50 years.
The programs will cover such subject areas as the development of hybrid coconut seed farms; training and capacity building; scholarships; research, marketing, and promotion; crop insurance; empowerment of coconut farmer organization and their cooperatives; credit programs; infrastructure development; and a health and medical program for farmers and their families, among others.
To finance the programs and projects to be implemented, the law mandates the Bureau of Treasury to transfer PhP10 billion to the trust fund in the first year; PhP10 billion in the second year; PhP15 billion in the third year; PhP15 billion in the fourth year; and PhP25 billion in the fifth year.
The PCA is also reconstituted to ensure the participation of the coconut farmers in the crafting and implementation of the Plan. The composition of the PCA Board is amended to be composed of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Finance, Budget and Management, Science and Technology, and Trade and Industry; Administrator of the Authority; and three members of the coconut farmers sector to represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
A Trust Fund Management Committee will likewise be created to set the investment priorities and annual allocations of the Trust Fund and approve the financial requirements of the Designated Disposition Entities, which refer to the Land Bank of the Philippines, Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System, etc.
As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the senator once more called on the Department of Agriculture to increase access to training and financing opportunities for the agricultural workforce sector to address the issues of unemployment, poverty and unequal economic growth.
“Marami pong nawalan ng trabaho at kabuhayan dahil sa krisis. Maraming mga Pilipino ang napilitang umuwi sa kanilang probinsya kung kaya’t dapat bigyan natin sila ng oportunidad pang-livelihood na akma sa kanilang lugar,” continued Go.
“Karamihan ng ating probinsya ay agriculture-driven ang lokal na ekonomiya. Magiging primary source ng kabuhayan ang agrikultura ng mga magbabalik probinsya kaya palakasin pa natin ang mga programang pwedeng magturo at sumuporta sa mga nais magsaka, mangisda, at iba pang kabuhayang pang-agrikultura,” he appealed.
The meeting was also attended by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Department of Public Works and Highways Acting Secretary Roger Mercado, 2nd District Representative David Suarez, Governor Danilo Suarez, and Sariaya Mayor Marcelo Gayeta, among others.
Earlier that day, Go also joined President Duterte in witnessing the inauguration of the Sariaya By-Pass Road in the same city. Running an estimated length of 7.4 kilometers, the road project begins at the Manila South Road – Daang Maharlika Road and ends at the Quezon Eco-Tourism Road.
It lessens the traffic volume in the Daang Maharlika by a significant 70%, benefits at least 15,000 daily commuters and reduces the travel time from Sariaya to Lucena City from 45 minutes to 10 minutes.
To bring hope and aid to communities hit by Typhoon Maring amid the ongoing pandemic
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go personally visited the ravaged parts of Buguey and Santa Teresita, Cagayan province on Monday, October 18, to give hope, comfort, and aid to the victims of Typhoon Maring.
In a speech during the activities, Go called on Filipinos to stand in unity, saying that the country is facing various converging crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. He pledged his continued support for the province whose people are still recovering from other recent calamities.
“Uulitin ko lang po, mawalang galang na po sa inyong lahat. Huwag ho kayong magpasalamat sa amin. Kami po ang magpasalamat sa inyo dahil binigyan n’yo po kami ng pagkakataon na makapagserbisyo po sa inyo,” Go said.
He also assured the community that the government is doing everything it can to extend the appropriate assistance to expedite their recovery.
“Ngayon, hinding-hindi po namin sasayangin ito. Itong pagkakataon na ito na ibinigay n’yo po sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte – mga probinsyano lang po kami. Si Pangulong Duterte isa po siyang mayor sa Davao na ginawang presidente. Ako naman po, 23 years na nagtatrabaho po sa kanya bilang staff n’ya po at naging special assistant, naging secretary po sa kanya noong 2016, ginawa n’yo pong senador,” he explained.
“Wala na po kaming hihilingin pa sa Panginoon, ibinigay na po Niya lahat sa amin. Kaya ibabalik po namin sa inyo ‘yung serbisyo pong para sa inyo po. Magseserbisyo kami sa inyo,” he added further.
Go explained that despite his vice presidential bid, he remains focused on his duties as a senator and public servant, especially in assisting the government and the general public in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Huwag muna nating pag-usapan ‘yung pulitika. Alam mo, napakaaga pa po, wala pang campaign period. Maraming salamat po sa pag-endorso, Governor (Manuel Mamba). Maraming salamat pero ayaw ko munang pag-usapan ‘yung pulitika ngayon… dalawa ang tumama sa atin dito sa Cagayan. Gusto kong unahin muna natin malampasan ang pandemyang ito at iba pang krisis na ating hinaharap,” said Go.
“Noong naging senador po ako pangako ko po kahit saang sulok kayo ng Pilipinas pupuntahan ko po kayo. Ma-Batanes, ma-Apari hanggang Jolo pupuntahan ko po basta kaya lang po ng aking katawan at ng aking oras. Pangako namin ‘yan sa inyo ni Pangulong Duterte – walang masasayang na oras pagdating sa serbisyo,” he assured.
The senator and his team handed out meals, food packs, vitamins, masks, and face shields to 600 typhoon victims, with thousands more to be assisted in the coming days.
The activities were carried out in batches at the Buguey and Santa Teresita municipal gymnasiums in strict observance of the health and safety protocols against COVID-19.
They gave selected residents new pairs of shoes and bicycles so they can travel with ease despite the limited transportation options. They also gave some computer tablets so children can study under the blended learning set-up better.
As part of government’s response to the disaster, representatives from various national agencies extended other forms of aid. The Department of Social Welfare and Development provided each victim with financial assistance and, along with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, separate food packs. The Department of Agriculture gave supplies of assorted vegetables, hybrid seeds and fertilizer to qualified farmers. It also turned over knapsack and power sprayers for livestock raisers, a cassava chipper machine, and recirculating rice dryer from Enhanced Kadiwa Program.
Moreover, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources provided bangus, crab, tilapia and other fingerlings and financial assistance for the construction of a tilapia hatchery.
On the other hand, the Department of Health offered free medical check-ups and handed out hygiene kits, vitamins, and masks. The Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry also conducted assessment of potential beneficiaries for their respective assistance programs.
The senator, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, also reminded the public to keep taking precautions even if they are fully vaccinated.
“Tingnan niyo. Pababa na ang mga kaso sa Metro Manila kasi marami na ang bakunado. Nasa datos naman na ‘yung mga positibo ngayon, sila ay ‘yung hindi nagpabakuna, ‘yung nag-aantay at nagsasabi na mamaya na sila. Huwag niyo na antayin na kayo’y abutan at nakakamatay ang virus na ito,” warned Go.
“Ngayon, mayroon ng mahigit na 90 million doses ng bakuna ang dumating sa ating bansa. Mahigit 24 million na Pilipino na ang fully vaccinated. Tuloy-tuloy lang ang programang ito hanggang makamtan natin ang population protection leading to herd immunity,” he continued.
Go offered to help residents with injuries or illnesses and advised them to seek further medical assistance at the Malasakit Center at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City.
The program was institutionalized through the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go primarily authored and sponsored in the Senate. It currently has 143 operating centers, which have assisted some three million patients across the country to date.
“Kung kailangan niyo naman magpa-ospital sa Maynila, magsabi lang kayo. Hindi niyo na kailangang mag-alala dahil kami na po ang sasagot,” reassured Go.
The senator recognized various government officials for their quick response and hard work after the typhoon struck. They included Governor Mamba, Buguey Mayor Lloyd Antiporda and Vice Mayor Licerio Antiporda III, and Santa Teresita Mayor Rodrigo De Gracia and Vice Mayor Ruben Fagela.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go supported numerous initiatives to enhance the development and improve the delivery of vital services in Cagayan such as the construction of various roads in Sta Teresita, Aparri, Amulung, Baggao, Calayan, Gonzaga, Iguig, Santa Ana, Enrile, Tuao, and Tuguegarao City; construction of a multi-purpose building in Sanchez-Mira; construction of a river control structure at the Zinundungan River; installation of streetlights in Camalaniugan; and upgrading of the CVMC.
He also committed to support the construction of the Peñablanca Super Health Center, Sta. Praxedes Super Health Center, and Sta. Teresita Super Health Center.
“Bukas ang aming opisina. Huwag kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa amin at nandidito ang gobyernong nagmamasakit sa inyo. Tulungan niyo din si Pangulong Duterte sa mga huling buwan niya sa gobyerno. Wala siyang ibang hangarin kung hindi ang kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino at ang maiahon tayong lahat mula sa krisis na ito,” ended Go.
The senator then visited the CVMC where he also provided aid to 2,560 health workers and 700 patients while checking on the operations of the Malasakit Center there.
As they visit Marawi City to commemorate its 4th Liberation Anniversary
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, together with President Rodrigo Duterte, honored the state security forces and the people of Marawi City for their sacrifice and courage as the nation commemorates the fourth anniversary of the liberation of Marawi from the Islamic State-linked terrorists who attacked the city in 2017.
On Saturday, October 16, President Duterte and Senator Go attended the commemoration activity held at Rizal Park in the Islamic City of Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
The senator reaffirmed that the government remains dedicated to sustaining President Duterte’s vision of long-lasting peace and development in the country.
“Importante sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte ang kapayapaan, lalo na sa Mindanao. Wala na po dapat na patayan. Sino ba namang gustong magpatayan Pilipino laban sa kapwa Pilipino? Masakit ‘yon,” said Go earlier.
“The government’s efforts in achieving sustainable peace and development across the country must be continuously pursued,” he added.
In his speech, President Duterte commended the Task Force Bangon Marawi for their service and sacrifice. He then assured that his administration will continue to exert all efforts to fully rehabilitate Marawi City and help the community build back better.
“The continued hard work of Task Force Bangon Marawi to accomplish the programs, projects, and activities under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program is truly commendable,” Duterte said.
“By rebuilding the lives of the displaced — iyon ang pinakaimportante — families, restoring damaged properties, and revitalizing disrupted socio-economic activities, you have stayed true to your commitment as agents of progress and catalysts for real change,” he continued.
The President also lauded the rehabilitation team, local leaders, and other stakeholders for their efforts to rehabilitate the Grand Mosque of Marawi.
“This place holds a historical and cultural significance in the lives of the Maranaws. We rejoice as a nation as the Grand Mosque of Marawi brings hope anew for our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Duterte.
He also witnessed the distribution of certificates of titles for permanent housing units to internally displaced person by the National Housing Authority and the turnover of PhP76-million assistance from the Cooperative Development Authority.
Go, as a member of Senate Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation, also asked for cooperation among community members for the continuous bayanihan efforts in ensuring that Marawi City remains supported even in the height of the pandemic.
Senator Go also highlighted that the government will continue its efforts to address threats of terrorism. He assured that efforts are being exerted in providing economic opportunities especially in regions in Mindanao to address poverty which becomes a root cause for conflicts.
“Talaga pong magulo noon. Pero nakita naman natin matapos maresolba ni dating Davao Mayor Duterte ang kriminalidad, naging mapayapa na ang lugar at malaki na ang pag-asenso ng negosyo at kabuhayan ng mga mamamayan,” Go previously said.
“Patuloy po akong magseserbisyo sa mga kapatid natin sa Mindanao upang tuluyang makamit ang inaasam na kapayapaan at kaunlaran hindi lamang para sa mga kababayan nating Muslim kundi para sa buong Pilipinas,” he continued.