PRRD signs national budget for 2022

Bong Go emphasizes proper and timely use of funds critical in pandemic efforts and economic recovery

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on Thursday, December 30, the last national budget under his administration, a measure that is critical in implementing the government’s pandemic response and in ensuring the country’s economic recovery.

In his speech, Duterte expressed his gratitude to Congress for expediting the ratification of the national budget. He went on to note that the passage of the 2022 budget demonstrates the ‘healthy collaboration’ among all branches of the government, which is crucial in achieving national development goals, especially in these hard times.

“As we mark the signing of the 2022 budget and other laws, let us all emulate Rizal’s heroism and courage by serving the country with dedication and accountability by doing what is right and just for our people,” Duterte added.

The President also stated that the 2022 budget is critical in maintaining the recovery momentum and sustaining the legacy of infrastructure development.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go commended the President for the timely signing of the budget, saying, “The signing is timely as we continue to deal with the pandemic and the recent onslaught of Typhoon Odette on our people and economy.”

“Nagpapasalamat naman ako sa mga kasamahan ko sa Lehislatibo at kay Pangulong Duterte sa agarang pagsasabatas ng 2022 General Appropriations Act. Sobrang napakahalaga ng budget na ito lalo na at patuloy nating nilalabanan ang pandemya at inaalalayan ang ating mga kababayang lubhang naapektuhan ng bagyong Odette,” he added.

The senator also urged government agencies to ensure the proper use of the funds, saying, “Kaya hinihimok ko ang mga kasamahan ko sa gobyerno na gamitin nang tama ang pondong inilaan upang agarang maihatid ang mga serbisyo at tulong na nararapat sa ating mga mamamayan.”

“Dapat walang masayang ni piso sa kaban ng bayan. Tiyakin nating magiging kasangkapan ang pondo ng gobyerno upang mapadali ang pagbangon ng ating bansa sa pagpasok ng Bagong Taon,” he added.

The senator then expressed his confidence that the budget was carefully considered in order to meet the demands of the Filipino people, particularly in these difficult times, and to enable the government to provide a comfortable life for all.

“Tiwala ako na ang budget na ito ay napapanahon at angkop upang tuluyan nating malampasan ang kasalukuyang pandemya at iba pang krisis sa bansa. Maipagpapatuloy din natin ang iba’t ibang programa at proyekto ng kasalukuyang administrasyon,” he stressed.

According to Go, the government continues to implement all necessary measures to save and protect lives. Also already included in the 2022 budget is an increased funding for COVID-19 response.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go successfully advocated budgetary support for the continuous implementation of the Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment, and Reintegration strategy, the emergency hiring of COVID-19 Human Resources for Health, and hiring and training of contact tracers.

“We also ensured there would be sufficient funding for the following activities and programs: COVID-19 benefits and compensation for our healthcare workers who are at the forefront of our battle against COVID-19; COVID-19 Laboratory Network Commodities to further enhance our testing capacity; and Epidemiology and Surveillance program to strengthen our disease surveillance,” Go explained.

“We also increased the budget of our National Reference Laboratories, such as RITM, to capacitate them to do genome sequencing in light of the new emerging variants, and support for the operations of DOH hospitals across the country,” he added.

To further beef up protection against the virus, the government also ensured funding for COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. He however emphasized the need for continued cooperation from the public in order to fully recover from the pandemic.

“Subalit, hindi naman kaya ng gobyernong sugpuin ang pandemya na mag-isa. Kaya dapat patuloy ang pakikiisa at kooperasyon ng lahat. Tandaan natin na hindi porke’t pwede nang lumabas at gumala ay hindi na tayo mag-iingat,” he said.

“Ang ating pagmamalasakit sa kapwa at pagiging disiplinado ay makakapagligtas ng buhay ng mga kapwa natin Pilipino. Kaya sama-sama po tayong maging instrumento ng pag-asa at mas ligtas na komunidad sa pagsalubong ng Bagong Taon!,” Go ended.

Go hails granting of Service Recognition Incentive to government employees and uniformed personnel

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval to grant a cash incentive to qualified civilian government employees and uniformed personnel in recognition of their hard work and contributions to the country especially amid the challenging year.

The President issued Administrative Order No. 45 on December 24, 2021. The Order authorizes the granting of a Service Recognition Incentive (SRI) amounting to a maximum of P10,000 to all regular, contractual and casual personnel, provided they are still in government service as of November 30, have rendered at least four months of service, and have not received any additional year-end benefits.

“The granting of this incentive recognizes the critical role that government workers play in nation-building. Patunay din ito sa kagustuhan ng gobyerno na mabigyan ng pagpapahalaga ang kanilang mga sakripisyo, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya,” said Go.

“Ensuring the continuing delivery of government services has become particularly more challenging as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic. Hindi madali ang panahon ngayon. Naging mas challenging pa ang kanilang trabaho dahil nahaharap tayo sa maraming pagsubok,” he continued.

Under AO No. 45, those who have rendered service for less than four months shall be entitled to a pro-rated share of the SRI from 40% to 10%. Meanwhile, employees in the legislative and judicial branches and local government units may also be granted the SRI, subject to the same conditions.

The SRI aims to ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic on many government personnel as well as to incentivize fiscal prudence and efficient utilization of funds by the concerned agencies.

For the employees in the executive branch, the SRI will be charged against the released Personnel Services or Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses allotments, or in the case of a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation, the approved corporate operating budget.

The SRI will also be chargeable against the respective budgets of the Senate, House of Representatives, Judiciary, Office of the Ombudsman and other offices.

The Order excludes consultants and experts, laborers, student workers and apprentices, and individuals and groups whose services are engaged through job orders, contracts of service, and other similar employment schemes.

In 2018, President Duterte fulfilled his campaign promise of increasing the salaries of the military and uniformed personnel when he signed Joint Resolution No. 1 which doubled the base pay of a private in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, police officer I in the Philippine National Police, and the equivalent ranks in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

Go also authored and co-sponsored the measure which became Republic Act No. 11466 or the “Salary Standardization Law 5” in 2019 to further enhance the welfare of civilian government employees. The law gives them their fifth round of salary increases which are broken down in tranches.

He has consistently pushed for measures recognizing the hardwork and service of government frontliners. Among these is Senate Bill No. 391, also known as the “Magna Carta for Barangays Act”, which he filed in the Senate that aims to provide barangay officials additional compensation similarly accorded to a regular government employee as well as other benefits to promote their welfare in return for the services they render in their respective communities.

Bong Go shares the Christmas spirit with hospital patients, watchers in Davao City

Continuing his yearly tradition, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go visited the patients and their watchers at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City hours before Christmas Eve to extend assistance and spread the holiday cheer amid these challenging times.

“Sa mga kababayan ko, sana masaya ang inyong Pasko. Kahit nandito kayo sa ospital, ang importante safe tayo. Huwag kayong mag-alala dahil tutulungan namin kayo ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte sa inyong pagpapaospital,” Go reassured the patients.

“Hindi man ako tumuloy sa pagtakbo, nandito pa rin ako handang magserbisyo. Hindi namin sasayangin ang pagkakataon na binigay niyo sa amin. Ibabalik namin sa inyo ang serbisyo na para sa inyong lahat,” he added.

The senator and his staff distributed snacks, food and medicine packs, and masks to a total of 107 individuals, consisting of 94 hospital watchers and 13 vendors, in compliance with the required health and safety protocols. The distribution was carried out in batches at the Balay Pahulayan, a common resting area located within the hospital.

Some also received new pairs of shoes and bicycles for their commuting needs, while others were provided computer tablets for their children’s educational use under the blended learning approach.

Moreover, personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development provided financial assistance under its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.

Continuing his message, Go urged everyone eligible to get vaccinated and complete their shots when given the opportunity. He reiterated that fully vaccinated individuals have significantly lower risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19. He likewise stressed that greater public cooperation in the national vaccination drive can help the country attain herd immunity and return to normalcy.

“Huwag kayong matakot dahil ang bakuna ang tanging susi upang tayo ay unti-unting makabalik sa ating normal na pamumuhay. Ang hirap ng sitwasyon noon dahil naka-quarantine tayo. Pero ngayon, kaunti na lang ang bilang ng mga kaso dahil marami na mga bakunado,” remarked Go.

“Pero ‘wag tayo maging kumpiyansa dahil delikado pa din ang panahon habang nandiyan pa ang COVID. Sumunod tayo sa mga awtoridad habang nagbabakuna tayo. Sa awa ng Diyos, baka makakabalik na din tayo sa normal natin na pamumuhay,” he added.

The senator went on to encourage the beneficiaries and their loved ones with health concerns to take advantage of the SPMC’s Malasakit Center to conveniently avail of the medical assistance programs offered by the government.

The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop which brings together the offices of the DSWD, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office under one roof. The program was institutionalized under the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go principally authored and sponsored in the Senate.

“Twenty-three years akong nagtrabaho kasama si Pangulong Duterte. Alam namin ang problema sa baba kung saan hirap ang mga tao makahingi ng tulong mula sa gobyerno. Kaya isinulong namin ang batas na ito para nasa loob na ng ospital ang mga ahensya na tutulong para maging zero balance ang billing ninyo,” explained Go.

“Ngayon, kung hindi kayang i-cover, magsabi lang kayo sa aming ospina. Huwag kayong mag-alala dahil kami na ang bahala sa babayaran ninyo anuman ang karamdaman ninyo,” he reassured.

President Duterte also extended his personal greetings and best wishes for a Merry Christmas to the beneficiaries and their families through a phone call.

“Dasal ko na sana malutas ang mga problema ninyo. Sabagay nandito naman ang gobyerno. Ito ang administrasyon na para talaga sa mga tao. Sobrang natutuwa ako na nabigyan ako ng oportunidad na makausap kayo. Kasali ako sa pagdadasal ninyo. Malayo man ako, ‘di pa ako makapasyal dahil mayroon akong tinatrabaho, magkikita rin tayo,” the President said.

Go then thanked Balay Pahulayan Supervisor Dawn Banzon and the rest of the hospital staff for their dedication and commitment in bettering the health and lives of their patients.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go has also supported many initiatives to improve the delivery of public services in Davao City. These include the construction or rehabilitation of multipurpose buildings and local roads in different barangays around the city, as well as the Philippine Red Cross Regional Office at the SPMC, Paquibato District Hall and Hope Day Care Center.

He also supported the construction of water systems in Barangays Acacia, Fatima, Mabuhay and San Isidro; construction or widening of a drainage canal in Barangays Bunawan Proper and Mintal; construction or rehabilitation of the drainage systems in Barangays Centro, Mudiang and Ubalde; construction of a flood control structure in Barangay 9-A and at the Datu Loho Creek; and construction of a new infectious diseases building and purchase of ambulance units for the SPMC.

The previous day, December 23, his staff provided relief to 500 solo parents and senior citizens in Barangay Tigatto. The senator likewise personally led the distribution of aid in Barangays Vicente Hizon Sr. and Panacan on December 21 and 20, respectively. Similar efforts were simultaneously conducted by his outreach teams in Barangays Governor Vicente Duterte, Wilfredo Aquino and Tibungco.

“Ang swerte natin dahil halos hindi tinamaan ang Davao City ng Bagyong Odette. Sobrang kawawa ang mga kababayan natin na tinamaan. Maiiyak ka talaga. Masakit sa dibdib ang makita ang mga kababayan mo na walang bahay at humihingi ng tulong dahil wala silang makain. Kaya pinadali ni Presidente Duterte ang pagtulong sa kanila. Ang maitutulong naman natin sa kanila ay magdasal tayo,” said Go.

“Kami ni Presidente Duterte ay patuloy kaming magseserbisyo sa inyong lahat. Dahil para sa amin, ang serbisyo sa tao ay serbisyo sa ating Panginoon. Maraming salamat muli, merry Christmas at happy New Year,” he ended.

PRRD, Go visit typhoon victims in Cebu and Palawan

As they both expressed their commitment to help communities recover and build back better

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go joined President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials in Palawan and Cebu on Thursday, December 23 to express solidarity and bring aid to communities hit by Typhoon Odette.

They assured typhoon victims that the government is determined to maximize all its assets to expedite relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

“Sa gitna ng mga kalamidad na ating nararanasan, nanawagan ako sa mga kapwa ko Pilipino na magkaisa para tulungan ang mga nasalanta ng Bagyong Odette,” Go appealed.

“Mahirap maramdaman ang saya ng Kapaskuhan kung alam nating may mga kababayan tayong naghihirap. Kaya wala kaming pahinga ni Pangulong Duterte at ng buong administrasyong ito sa pagsigurong makakarating ang tulong sa mga nangangailangan,” he added.

Together with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and other key officials, the President and Go met with leaders of Palawan for a situation briefing. Among those present were Governor Jose Alvarez, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Taytay Mayor Christian Rodriguez, Roxas Mayor Dennis Sabando and Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Director Fernando De Villa Jr.

The President also led the ceremonial turnover of relief goods and essential supplies at the old Puerto Princesa City Airport.

Soon after, they flew to Cebu City where President Duterte met local officials and led the distribution of food packs and the ceremonial turnover of financial assistance to typhoon victims at the Labangon Elementary School gymnasium.

“Para siguraduhin ang maayos na koordinasyon ng relief at rebuilding efforts, personal po nating tinututukan nitong mga nakaraang araw ang mga pinsalang naidulot ng Bagyong Odette. Sa mga pagbisitang ito, nakipagpulong din si Pangulong Duterte sa mga lokal na opisyal upang direktang marinig mula sa kanila ang kanilang mga pangangailangan at agarang matugunan ang mga ito,” Go narrated.

“Kasalukuyang ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat upang maibalik sa lalong madaling panahon ang supply ng kuryente, komunikasyon at tubig at maipagkaloob ang mga ayuda sa mga apektadong residente. Ngunit kailangan ang whole-of-nation approach para masiguro ang mabilis at tuluy-tuloy na pagbangon ng ating mga kababayan,” he explained further.

President Duterte and Senator Go assured the local communities that the whole government is mobilizing all its assets to help them recover and build back better. The President has also directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Coast Guard and other concerned uniformed personnel and frontliners to provide needed support to the affected communities.

“Ibinilin ng Pangulo na gamitin lahat ng assets ng gobyerno upang maibangon muli ang mga komunidad na apektado. Inaasahan niya na lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno ay nakatutok sa recovery and rehabilitation efforts at walang oras o pondo na masasayang,” Go said.

To fast track all rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts, the President issued on Tuesday, December 21, Proclamation No. 1267 which placed MIMAROPA, Regions VI (Western Visayas), VII (Central Visayas), VIII (Eastern Visayas), X, (Northern Mindanao) and XIII (Caraga) under a state of calamity. The declaration will remain in effect for a year until it is modified or rescinded.

In addition to hastening the delivery of government and humanitarian assistance, the proclamation also directs all concerned agencies to coordinate with, provide or augment the basic services and facilities of the affected areas. It likewise orders the law enforcement agencies, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to undertake the necessary measures to ensure peace and order.

“Ipinaalala rin ng Pangulo na dapat mai-release na agad ang karagdagang pondo para sa mga LGUs upang makaresponde sila sa mga pangangailangan ng kanilang nasasakupan,” Go emphasized.

Two days after Typhoon Odette made landfall, Go and the President conducted aerial inspections of typhoon-ravaged areas in Visayas and Mindanao since Saturday and delivered aid to the affected families there. The two were on hand to personally give comfort and support residents of affected communities in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Negros Island from December 18 to 20.

On December 22, they returned to Siargao Island and the Dinagat Islands just as promised to personally oversee relief and rehabilitation efforts.

“Mas nanaisin ko pang mag-Pasko kapiling ang mga biktima ng bagyo dahil ito naman ang tunay na diwa ng okasyong ito — ang pagtulong, pagdadalamhati at pakikipagkapwa-tao,” Go stressed.

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Israel Extends Assistance to Typhoon-Hit Areas in the Philippines

Israeli diplomats personally extended assistance to residents affected by Typhoon Odette that wreaked havoc to the Philippines. Initial donations were turn overed to Cebu and Bohol. 

Ambassador Ilan Fluss flew to Cebu to donate four solar energy systems, food packs, and hygiene kits to the typhoon-hit residents. The Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines headed by Mr. Yoray Ofek also shared sacks of rice for Talisay, Cebu. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Mission Nir Balzam went to Bohol to turnover one unit of NUF portable water purifier, four solar energy systems, food packs, and hygiene kits. The turnover of donations in these areas were held on December 22.

“The State of Israel and the people of Israel are saddened to see the damage caused to human life, property, and resources caused by Typhoon Odette. We would like to express our sympathies and we would want the Filipinos to know that we stand by them. We are here to assist in every way that we can,” Ambassador Fluss said. The Israeli Ambassador also extended his condolences to the bereaved families of the casualties of the typhoon.

“The solar panels will be useful for areas which don’t have power supply yet. This technology is ready to use and low-maintenance,” Ambassador Fluss mentioned.

“Aside from the issues on power supply, we noticed that typhoon hit areas also experiences shortage of portable water. This Israeli-made portable water purifier will give them access to clean drinking water,” Mr. Balzam explained. 

Cebu and Bohol are two of the areas frequently visited by Israeli tourists in the Philippines. “I hope that they will recover soon and continue to feature the beauty and rich culture of these places,” Ambassador Fluss said. “It is important for a foreign diplomat like me to personally deliver this assistance to reach out to the communities and let them know that we are always ready to offer a helping hand,” he added.

Around 2,000 families received the food packs and hygiene kits. The embassy is also donating one unit of NUF portable water purifier, four solar energy systems, food packs, and hygiene kits to Siargao.