New Bicol International Airport part of Duterte Legacy

As Bong Go highlights PH’s Golden Age of Infrastructure

President Rodrigo Duterte, together with Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and other officials, attended the inauguration of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga town, Albay province on Thursday, October 8. The BIA, considered the first international airport in Luzon south of the National Capital Region, is expected to boost tourism and economic development in the Bicol Region.

“Kahit sa gitna ng pandemya, nananatiling nagsusumikap ang ating pamahalaan para ipagpatuloy ang mga mahahalagang proyekto sa ating komunidad,” said Go.

“Ito ay patunay ng malasakit at dedikasyon ng Duterte Administration sa paglilingkod sa buong taumbayan. Sisiguraduhin nating walang maiiwan sa ating pagbangon mula sa krisis,” he added.

The airport includes a 2,500-meter runway with take-off capabilities and night landing, as well as cargo and passenger terminal and an air traffic control tower, fire station, parking lot, and amenities.

According to the Department of Transportation, the BIA, dubbed as the “most scenic gateway”, generated 755 jobs during its construction and is set to create 1,100 more indirect jobs once operations commence.

In the country’s so-called Golden Age of Infrastructure, Go told Filipinos that no region will be left behind, saying “Hindi po natin nakakalimutan isama ang Bicol Region sa Golden Age of Infrastructure ng ating bansa.”

“Tiyak po ako na ang bagong pasilidad na ito ay makakatulong sa paglago sa Bicol, lalo na sa sektor ng turismo habang dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ating ekonomiya,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go also reassured the public that he will continue to pursue the completion and expansion of infrastructure development initiatives to achieve a more equitable economic development across the country.

Go has been vocal in his support for the country’s infrastructure development. He said that the construction of new airports will bring in jobs and economic opportunities outside Metro Manila and will provide livelihood to Filipinos, especially those who were left jobless due to the pandemic.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Go has strongly supported the funding of numerous infrastructure initiatives nationwide.

“Walang humpay ang ating paglilingkod. Pinag-aaralan natin ang lahat ng posibleng paraan na maaaring makapagpabilis sa daloy ng serbisyo at makatulong sa ating mga kababayan. Para naman sa amin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, basta kapakanan ng mga Pilipino, ipaglalaban namin ‘yan hanggang sa huli,” Go said.

Earlier, Go attended the opening of the first 18-kilometer section of the Central Luzon Link Expressway project with Duterte on July 15 in Tarlac City. The newly opened highway is intended to reduce the usual journey time between Cabanatuan City and Tarlac City from 70 minutes to just 20 minutes once it is fully operational. It will also be toll-free.

Go also attended the inauguration of the Cavite – Laguna Expressway Silang East Interchange section on August 24 and the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project in Taguig City on September 30.

As a vice presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, he vowed to ensure that the positive change initiated by President Duterte will be continued in order to provide a more comfortable life for all Filipinos.

“Ipagpapatuloy ko ang mga magagandang programa tulad ng libreng edukasyon, libreng pagpapagamot tulad ng serbisyo mula sa Malasakit Centers, Build Build Build Projects, at marami pang iba tungo sa ating hangarin na mabigyan ng mas maginhawa at komportableng buhay ang mga Pilipino,” Go said earlier.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ISRAEL: MISS UNIVERSE COMPETITION® WILL TAKE PLACE IN ISRAEL THIS DECEMBER

Israel Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov

“I fully hope that in December we will be celebrating not only the new Miss Universe here in Israel, but most importantly, the end of the world pandemic.”

The global MISS UNIVERSE® beauty pageant will be held for the first time in its history in Israel. The city of Eilat was chosen to be the host city of the competition, which will mark its 70th anniversary this year. 

Israeli producer Tali Eshkoli and Los Angeles-based producer Assaf Blecher are responsible for bringing the Miss Universe pageant to Israel, which will be run by the Miss Universe organization in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Eilat Municipality. From the end of November, competition contestants will arrive in Israel for three weeks of TV events, broadcast live around the world. These include the semi-final and final events, the national costume show, and other gala events such as the red-carpet event, events in the community, charity events and more. The 70th Miss Universe Competition will once again be hosted by legendary entertainer Steve Harvey. 

Delegations from about 100 countries are expected to attend the pageant in Israel, including more than 1,200 members of official delegations, hundreds of journalists and TV crews, thousands of pageant enthusiasts and tourists, more than 100 American celebrities, including top-tier artists and world-famous judges. Every year, the event is widely covered in the media and it will add Israel to the map of countries that have previously hosted the prestigious pageant. 

The choice of Israel as the host country once again underscores Israel’s attractiveness, its rich history and the wide variety of spectacular tourist and resort sites that Israel has to offer pageant viewers around the world. An international event of this scale will positively impact awareness and image of Eilat and Israel as a leading tourism destination and a world-renowned international brand.  

The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) is a global community that empowers women to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success. The organization’s programs provide the women who participate an international platform to affect positive change through influential humanitarian and professional efforts. The contestants and titleholders are leaders and role models in their communities, develop personal and professional goals, and inspire others to do the same.

Israel Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov:

“We in Israel are delighted to host the 70th anniversary celebrations of the iconic Miss Universe pageant. Israel is a beautiful land of creativity and innovation and we have successfully faced the COVID-19 crisis head on. Therefore, today we are among the first countries to host an international event – the unifying Miss Universe.

 

Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi:

“We are proud to host the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Miss Universe pageant in Eilat – a year-round sea and sun resort. We see this event as an opportunity to leverage Eilat and the Negev as an attractive tourism destination.

 

Tourism Director for India and the Philippines Sammy Yahia:

“What a great opportunity to host Ms. Universe this December in Israel. I know that some Filipinos were crowned with this prestigious competition. I wish all participants good health and good luck and I look forward in seeing you all soon”.

Tali Eshkoli, Miss Universe producer in Israel: “The State of Israel once again proves that it stands alongside leading countries in the world that are capable of hosting international events of such significant size. Without a doubt, we have a great and extraordinary opportunity to expose Israel to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, and I thank the Ministry of Tourism and the Eilat Municipality for their fruitful cooperation.”

 

Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization: “Israel has been on our shortlist of host countries for a number of years due to its rich history, beautiful landscapes, myriad of cultures and appeal as a global tourist destination,” said “As we sought an impressive location for our 70th anniversary celebration, it became clear through our conversations with acting mayor Lankri and the Israeli Ministry that Israel has the best resources to host MISS UNIVERSE in December.” 

 

The Philippines was already crowned four Filipina Miss Universe, Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in !973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018. 

Bong Go lauds PRRD for signing EO 140 to restore the country’s labor market amid the adverse economic impacts of the pandemic

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing Executive Order No. 140, which officially adopted the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) as the Philippine government’s master plan for the restoration of the country’s labor market.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo at kinokomendahan si Pangulong Duterte sa pagpirma niya ng EO 140 na layuning maglatag ng recovery strategy para sa labor market ng bansa na lubos na apektado ng kasalukuyang pandemya,” said Go.

“Layunin po nito na buuin ang NERS Task Force na siyang bubuo ng mga polisiya upang makapaglikha pa tayo ng mas maraming trabaho sa bansa at magkaroon ng access ang ating mga kababayan sa mga ito. Bubuo rin sila ng mga polisiya para sa livelihood trainings, pagpapalakas ng productivity ng ating mga manggagawa, pagsusulong ng kanilang karapatan, at marami pang iba,” he added.

On Monday, June 29, Duterte signed the EO. It institutionalizes the NERS Task Force, which consists of 20 agencies, and is directed to implement the NERS from 2021 to 2022 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s adverse effects.

Members are the Departments of Transportation, Tourism, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology, Environment and Natural Resources, Education, Finance, and Budget and Management, among other agencies.

The passage of laws to support economic and employment recovery, the implementation of youth employability initiatives, process upgrades, and loan assistance to businesses are among those on the recovery agenda. Also included are the promotion of retooling and upskilling of workers, social protection to vulnerable groups, deferment of fees, and continuous support and monitoring of programs with high impact on employment.

As the country jumpstarts the economy while government rolls out its vaccination program, Go continues to push for the passage of key legislative measures that can ease the burden of the pandemic on ordinary Filipinos and ensure continued public service delivery during these challenging times.

For one, Go supported the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE bill to help small businesses cope with the adverse impact of the crisis. According to Go, the tax reform measure also aims to achieve faster and equitable regional development and provide economic opportunities in the provinces by encouraging businesses to invest in the countryside.

Moreover, Go filed the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery or GUIDE bill.

“Ang mga ito ay naglalayong magkaroon ng dagdag na mekanismong pinansyal para matulungan ang mga negosyo na magkaroon ng puhunan,” Go explained.

“Kung matutulungan natin ang mga negosyo na bumangon at lumago, matutulungan rin ng pribadong sektor ang ating mga kababayan at magkakaroon rin ng mas maraming economic opportunities sa buong bansa,” he added.

The Public Services Bill and the Foreign Investment Bill are also being prioritized by the government and are currently undergoing plenary deliberations. Meanwhile, the Retail Trade Liberalization bill already passed the Senate’s third and final reading.

To ensure that government can better adapt to the new normal, Go is also pushing for a measure that will spur the shift of government processes and transactions towards e-governance. He filed in July last year Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1738, or the “E-Governance Act of 2020,” which mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and inter-operable information and resource-sharing and communications network.

Go said e-governance “will reduce red tape, eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, provide safe and convenient delivery of services to the people and encourage citizen feedback and participation.”

“Ginagawan na natin ng paraan na magiging mas malinis at madali ang pakikipag-transaksyon sa gobyerno. Kung kaya’t bukod sa maayos na pag-implementa ng Ease of Doing Business Act, isinusulong ko rin ang aking E-Governance Bill upang mas makapag-adapt ang bansa sa ‘new normal’,” said Go.

“Gamit ang makabagong teknolohiya, gagawin nating mas mabilis, maginhawa, at angkop sa pangkasalukuyang sitwasyon ang mga proseso ng gobyerno para mas makabenepisyo sa pangkaraniwang mga Pilipino,” he added.

Go is also the main proponent of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program. BP2 is a comprehensive, multi-sectoral and whole-of-government initiative which seeks to decongest Metro Manila and enhance regional development by incentivizing residents and businesses to settle and invest in areas outside Metropolitan areas.

It places emphasis on four key result areas, namely: (1) the empowerment of local industries; (2) food security and agricultural productivity; (3) housing, social welfare, health, employment and human resource development; and (4) infrastructure development. Beneficiaries who are returning to their provinces can expect to receive assistance on transportation, housing and livelihood, among others, subject to assessment.

BP2 roll-outs are presently temporarily suspended due to the pandemic and shall resume once conditions are deemed safe. However, preparations by local government units and partner agencies are underway.

“Magtulungan at magbayanihan po tayo para malampasan ang krisis na ito. Pasiglahin natin muli ang ating mga kabuhayan, at bigyan natin ng bagong pag-asa ang ating mga kababayan ng mas ligtas at komportableng buhay — anumang pagsubok ang dumating,” Go said.

Bong Go urges gov’t to maximize available funds for the expanded social amelioration

Ensure seamless distribution prioritizing those in NCR plus

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged on Friday, March 26, concerned government agencies to maximize available funds for the proposed new social amelioration program as many Filipinos have been reported to experience hunger due to the continuing quarantine restrictions amid the pandemic.

“Nakausap ko po kahapon si Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez. Hindi ko po tinitigilan pati si Secretary (Wendel) Avisado, sabi ko maghanap kayo ng pagkukunan, kung maaari walisin n’yo kung ano ang pwedeng walisin,” Go said during a radio interview.

Go also stressed that the provision of additional “ayuda” should be expanded and must include all vulnerable sectors, including those who lost their jobs. He particularly emphasized that such assistance must be provided to those affected by stricter quarantine restrictions in “NCR plus” areas.

“‘Yung mga hindi nagagamit na pondo ay gamitin n’yo na lang po sa mga kababayan nating naghihirap. Kinukulong natin sila para hindi magkahawahan, halos kalahati lang nakakapagtrabaho at maraming nawalan ng kabuhayan,” he lamented.

“Dapat mabigyan ng ayuda ‘yung mga mahihirap talaga na nasa NCR plus na mga lugar kung saan mas istrikto ang mga patakaran dahil sa pagtaas ng bilang ng mga nagkakasakit doon,” he emphasized.

Go also reminded concerned agencies to avoid issues they experienced during the initial distribution of social amelioration last year.

“Ang pagbibigay ng SAP ay nagkaroon ng reklamo sa first round. Ilang porsyento lang sa isang munisipyo ang nakakatanggap,” he said.

“Dapat ngayon perpekto n’yo na po ‘yan. I-combine n’yo na po mga nakatanggap sa listahan na una at binalikan n’yo (noong second round). Importante, wala pong ma-miss out at hindi makatanggap para walang reklamo. Para lahat ng nagugutom ay matulungan,” he added.

Go, however, expressed his confidence that the Department of Social Welfare and Development will be able to do their job well in the distribution of assistance.

“Alam n’yo sa ayuda na ‘yan, alam na po ng DSWD ang kanilang trabaho. Wala na akong nakikitang rason na magkakandarapa sila sa distribusyon,” he said.

“Wala pong pulitika dito, ‘wag n’yo haluan ng pulitika, marami na po nasususpinde na mga kapitan na nagsasamantala,” he added.

Go said that while he welcomes the 10K Ayuda Bill proposed by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, he suggested that the executive branch must also explore options that can already provide the needed aid while the proposed measure is still a pending legislation.

He suggested looking into available funds or savings that can be used without need of congressional action.

“Ako naman po, kung ano ang makakatulong, very much welcome po ‘yan, ‘yung proposal po ni Cong. Alan (Cayetano), very much welcome po ‘yan kaya lang po (habang) nasa recess (ang Kongreso) ngayon, di na makakaantay ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.

“Dapat kung anumang legal na paraan para makapag-allot agad… baka pwedeng i-consider nila. Ako naman, sa legislative, handa akong pag-usapan agad ito kung ano pang bill ang makakatulong, handa akong sumuporta,” he explained.

He, then, assured that he will continue to push for the additional assistance needed to address hunger and ensure that government does its part to ease the burden of Filipinos in distress.

“‘Wag kayo mag-alala, ‘di ako titigil sa kakakulit. Si Pangulong Duterte, concerned po sya, ayaw niya may magutom bagama’t bumaba na ang hunger (rate) ngayon at unemployment base po sa data,” Go said.

“Hindi po ito sapat, ‘di tayo makukuntento dito, nagkaroon tayo quarantine measure, marami po ang nawalan ng kabuhayan, pati mga OFWs nawalan ng trabaho, kaya dapat patuloy ang ating pagtulong sa mga tao,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go urged Filipinos to remain vigilant and continue cooperating with authorities in order to stop COVID-19 and overcome the crisis.

No more excuses for telco companies not to improve their services — Bong Go

In light of the comprehensive legislations and policies being implemented by the government to streamline business processing in the country, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go told telecommunications companies that they have no excuses anymore not to improve their services.

“Meron na pong report na talagang ginagawa na po ng paraan ng ating gobyerno na mapabilis ang serbisyo ng telco, kasi ang dahilan ng telco noon matagal ang processing ng permits. So, nagbigay na ng instruction ang Pangulo na bilisan. In two to three weeks po, dapat tapos na ang permit,” Go explained during an interview right after he personally assisted typhoon victims in Legazpi City, Albay on Friday, February 5.

“So, ngayon wala nang dahilan dahil may batas na po ngayon na kapag tumagal ang pagproseso ng permit, pwedeng tanggalin ‘yung mismong nagpapabagal. Pwedeng kasuhan at tanggalin sa trabaho,” he added.

Go is referring to a set of laws and policies implemented by the government to improve ease of doing business in the country by cutting bureaucratic red tape.

The most recent is Republic Act No. 11517 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in December of last year. It authorizes the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses, and certifications in times of national emergency.

The law intends to make life easier for business owners and ordinary citizens alike when applying for government documents, such as licenses, permits and certifications during national emergencies, such as the pandemic.

Duterte also warned in August local government units to act on permit applications of telecommunications companies within three days or they will be charged with corruption or face possible suspension.

In May 2018, Duterte signed into law RA No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act. The law, which amends the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, seeks to streamline the process of starting and running a business in the country.

The law provides for the standardized deadline for government transactions, a single unified business application form, establishment of business one-stop shops, and a zero-contact policy to eliminate corruption.

The law also requires the Department of Information and Communications Technology to establish a central business portal which will receive all business applications, and the Philippine Business Databank which will stand as a repository of information on all businesses registered in the Philippines.

With the President’s approval of Republic Act No. 11032, the DICT, headed by Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II, established the Central Business Portal which aims to be the single online portal for all business-related transactions with the government, including applications for business permits, clearances, and licenses. The DICT recently launched the CBP Phase 1 last January 28, 2021 and features a unified application form and user dashboard which enables businesses to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Internal Revenue online as well as the BIR ePayment system for registration fees and the registration of employer numbers for the social security agencies: Social Security System, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG.

In relation to Republic Act No. 11032, the DICT also spearheaded the issuance of a Joint Memorandum Circular last July 2020 to streamline requirements and reduce procedural delays in securing necessary permits, licenses, clearances, certificates, and other requirements in constructing common towers—reducing processing time from 241 days to sixteen days; permits from thirteen to eight; and documentary requirements from 86 to 35.

With the entry of a third telco player, Dito Telecommunity, Go said that business competition will further foster improvement of internet services for consumers.

“Ngayon, meron pa tayong pangatlong telco player. So, dapat po, mas meron nang competition, mas pag-igihan pa nila ang serbisyo,” he said.

Go also filed in July of last year a measure institutionalizing the transition of the government to e-governance in the digital age amid the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill No. 1738, or the E-Governance Act of 2020, mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and interoperable information and resource-sharing and communications network spanning the entirety of the national and local government, an internal records management information system, an information database, and digital portals for the delivery of public services.

Go reiterated the benefits of prioritizing the transition to e-governance platforms, saying that they will reduce red tape and corruption, and improve efficiency and productivity of government processes.

“Having a transparent, efficient and responsive delivery of government services is key to reducing corruption and empowering the people to exact accountability from public servants,” he emphasized. “