Bong Go lauds ongoing efforts to locally manufacture and develop vaccines in the Phl

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded the ongoing efforts of the national government, in coordination with the private sector, to boost the Philippines’ capabilities to locally manufacture and eventually develop its own vaccines. He said that this will allow the country to eventually veer away from reliance on the international market for vaccines and other medicines.

“Napakalaki po ng potensyal ng ating bansa na mag-produce ng sarili nating mga gamot at bakuna laban sa samu’t saring mga sakit. Napapanahon na po upang pag-aralan natin kung papaano tayo magiging self-reliant pagdating sa aspetong ito,” reiterated Go.

According to Go, who also serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, this initiative will not only help boost local vaccine supply, but can also help increase production of vaccines in the world market in the future.

In line with this, Go welcomed the active participation and show of interest of various pharmaceutical companies in locally manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.

Late in March, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the Board of Investments has been in discussion with companies which are keen on producing COVID-19 vaccines locally.

During a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, April 15, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña also disclosed that the government is in talks with potential local vaccine manufacturers in a presentation on “Vaccine Self-Reliant Philippines”.

During the said meeting, the DTI also presented its ongoing efforts to help attain vaccine self-reliance by supporting local manufacturing initiatives.

“Bagama’t mid- to long-term solution ito sa ating hangarin na magkaroon ng sapat na supply ng ligtas at epektibong bakuna sa bansa, maging bukas ang ating isipan at suportahan natin ang mga ganitong inisyatibo,” Go said.

“Hindi natin alam kung ano pa ang mga idudulot na problema ng COVID-19 sa susunod na mga buwan. Hindi rin natin alam ano pang pandemya ang haharapin natin sa susunod na mga taon. Mas mabuting maging proactive at handa tayo,” he emphasized further.

Go also stressed the need to accelerate arrangements for public-private partnerships in manufacturing vaccines locally, with the DTI at the helm. He urged concerned agencies to support these initiatives and help expedite the setting-up process, but also asked the companies to ensure all requirements are met in accordance with existing laws and regulations.

“Mas magiging matagumpay ito kung magtutulungan ang gobyerno at ang pribadong sektor. We need to always adopt a whole-of nation approach to overcome these challenges,” he said.

“Hindi ito laban ng gobyerno lamang, laban ito ng buong sambayanang Pilipino at ng buong mundo. Kaya nga po bayanihan ang isinisigaw natin noong simula palang. Bigyan natin ng oportunidad ang lahat na tumulong,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go said that the establishment of a virology institute, which will eventually enable the country to develop its own vaccines and other related drugs against diseases, such as COVID-19, should be the long-term goal.

“It is for this reason that I recently echoed President Duterte’s call to establish a virology institute that will capacitate the country to conduct scientific research initiatives on preventing and treating various viruses and diseases,” he said.

Go said that this initiative is intended to avoid a repetition of the present situation where poorer nations are left with fewer supplies of vaccines as compared to richer and more developed countries that have early on invested in health sciences and medical research.

Acting as a venue for both local and international scientists to collaborate on studying viruses of agricultural, industrial, clinical, and environmental importance, Go mentioned that the proposed institute will serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology in the country. It will encompass all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.

The government has already allocated an amount of PhP50 million in the 2021 General Appropriations Act for the detailed engineering design of the virology institute which is planned to be built in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. The institute project is one of the projects included in the government’s Build! Build! Build! infrastructure program.

Measures have also been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to institutionalize the proposed virology research.

SBG calls on gov’t for more Covid-19 isolation tents and ICU beds

As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, I appeal to concerned agencies, with the help of the private sector, to expedite the construction and expansion of more modular facilities and tents equipped with COVID-19 isolation and ICU beds to cater particularly to those with severe conditions.

I laud the continuing efforts of the government to provide more isolation facilities for people with mild and moderate COVID-19 cases; however, the need for more facilities that can handle severe and critical conditions must also be considered.

In order to maximize our resources, I urge the government to identify locations where we can install these modular facilities and tents equipped with ICU beds, or existing structures that can be transformed into temporary health facilities to accommodate severe COVID-19 cases.

We need to double our efforts in order to reduce further the waiting time for patients needing urgent treatment or admission, provide faster medical transport and patient pick-up, and facilitate much improved use of critical care services in our health facilities.

Nakakaawa po ‘yung mga kababayan nating naghihingalo na tapos wala pang mahanap na ospital. Buhay po ang nakasalalay sa bawat minutong pag-aantay makakuha lang ng ospital, kama, at doktor para maalagaan sila.

Huwag nating hintayin na nag-aagaw buhay na sa labas ng mga ospital ang ating mga kababayang may sakit. Gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para sagipin at gamutin sila.

Moreover, we also need to augment our medical frontliners, particularly in critical areas where a significant number of them have been overburdened or, worse, also infected with COVID-19.

I laud the bayanihan efforts of nurses in the Visayas who expressed willingness to be deployed to the ‘NCR Plus’ areas. Patunay lamang po ito na sa kabila ng pandemya, malakas pa rin ang diwa ng bayanihan sa bansa.

I appeal to our health workers in other parts of the country with lower COVID-19 cases to also be ready to extend help in critical areas. In these trying times, we need a whole-of-nation approach to fully overcome this pandemic.

Bawat isa sa atin ay may tungkulin sa kapwa, sa ating komunidad, at sa ating bayan. Lahat tayo ay dapat maging bahagi ng solusyon. Laging tandaan na ang ating kooperasyon, bayanihan, at malasakit sa kapwa ay makapagliligtas ng buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino!

Bong Go welcomes PRRD’s approval of Supplemental Amelioration Program

Urges agencies and LGUs to ensure this benefits those who need gov’t aid the most

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for heeding his earlier appeal to provide additional assistance to poor Filipinos through an expanded Supplemental Amelioration Program as this is a welcomed step towards aiding our needy kababayans.

This comes after the reimposition of the enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region Plus bubble due to the rapidly rising cases of new COVID-19 infections in the area.

Go thanked Duterte for responding affirmatively to his request to help the poor tide over the new lockdown, saying, “Nagpapasalamat ako kay Pangulong Duterte sa kanyang pagtugon sa ating panawagan na magbigay ng agarang ayuda para sa mga mahihirap na apektado ng ECQ sa NCR, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite at Laguna.”

“Nagpapasalamat rin ako kila Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez at Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, sa kanilang patuloy na pagmamalasakit at palaging pagdinig sa hinaing ng taumbayan,” Go said.

The Senator said that Duterte’s decision is a testament to the President’s compassion and willingness to listen to the concerns of his people.

“Dahil dito, higit kumulang 22.9 milyong mahihirap na katao na bumubuo ng 80 porsyento ng populasyon ng NCR at mga probinsya ng Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite at Laguna na naka-ECQ ngayon ang mabibigyan ng ayuda,” Go said.

During the President’s weekly Talk to the People address on Monday night, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said that an estimated 22.9 million low income individuals in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are set to benefit from the newly approved amelioration assistance.

Each individual belonging to the 80% low-income population of the affected area will be provided with PhP1,000 worth of assistance, with a maximum of PhP4,000 per family.

The PhP22.9-billion funding requirement is chargeable against the available funds under Republic Act No. 11494, also known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

“Habang limitado ang galaw ng mga tao para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit, limitado rin ang kita at pagkain ng kanilang pamilya. Huwag na nating hayaan na madagdagan pa ang bilang ng nagugutom,” he said.

After the approval of the President, Go urged implementing agencies to fast-track the distribution of the assistance with the help of local government units to ensure that those who need government aid the most benefit from this program.

“Aprubado na ito ng Pangulo kung kaya’t dapat na bilisan na natin ang pagbigay ng ayuda para makarating agad ang tulong ng gobyerno sa mga dapat makatanggap nito,” asked Go.

“Sa tulong din ng mga LGUs, dapat mailatag na ang proseso kung paano ito maipapamahagi sa bawat kwalipikadong indibidwal sa paraang maayos, mabilis, at walang bahid ng pulitika o korapsyon,” he added.

He also asked the public to continue to cooperate with authorities, remain vigilant, and strictly follow health protocols to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“Sa mga kapwa kong Pilipino, konting tiis lang po. Ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat para mapagaan ang hirap na pinapasan ng buong sambayanan,” Go urged.

“Magbayanihan po tayo para malampasan ang mga pagsubok na ito,” he concluded.

In his appeal for assistance for poor Filipinos amid the stricter quarantine restrictions in critical areas particularly in NCR and neighboring provinces, Go asked the government to also address hunger and poverty while Filipinos are forced to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Gawin natin ang lahat sa abot ng ating makakaya na makapag-abot ng tulong sa lahat ng nangangailangan para walang magutom. Habang pinipilit natin silang manatili sa kanilang mga pamamahay, siguraduhin din dapat natin na mayroong laman ang kanilang tiyan at may tulong tayong maiaabot sa kanila,” he said.

“Kung anumang kabutihan na pwede natin gawin ay gawin na natin ngayon. Huwag po natin ipagkait sa mga kababayan natin ang anumang tulong na pwede natin maibigay sa kanila. Umaksyon na tayo agad,” he ended.

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Bong Go urges government to expedite release of special amelioration assistance as Budget Secretary confirms readied funds for additional “ayuda”

Senator and vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance Christopher “Bong” Go urged the government to expedite the release of a new round of amelioration for poor Filipinos particularly those under Enhanced Community Quarantine in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

“Nakikiusap muli ako sa national government na bilisan niyo na ang ayuda. Tulungan natin sa lalong madaling panahon ang ating mga kababayan upang makaraos sila sa hirap, lalo na ‘yung mga naninirahan sa NCR, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite at Laguna na naka-ECQ,” Go said in a statement.

“Kung kaya’t anumang available na pondo na pwedeng gamitin ng gobyerno na pang-ayuda ay ibigay na natin. Ilatag na dapat ng mga ahensya, sa tulong din ng mga LGUs, ang mga mekanismo kung paano ito maipapamahagi sa bawat kwalipikadong pamamahay o indibidwal sa paraang maayos, mabilis, at walang bahid ng pulitika o korapsyon,” he added.

Go also disclosed during an interview on Monday, March 29, that the Department of Budget and Management has prepped two options for the new special amelioration assistance and shall be presented to the President for approval later today. Go said that the government is exploring the possibility of distributing per household or per individual.

“Importante po dito, habang kinukulong po natin ang ating mga kababayan ay dapat pong walang magutom, mayro’n po silang makain sa kanilang hapag-kainan dahil po pinilit natin silang manatili sa kanilang mga bahay, ay siguraduhin po nating mayro’n tayong maibigay na tulong sa kanila,” Go said.

According to Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, they are initially targeting an estimated 22.9 million individual beneficiaries which correspond to the 80 percent low income population in “NCR plus” areas affected by the ECQ.

This is based on data provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development together with the National Economic Development Authority, according to Avisado.

“Dalawang options ang ibinigay ng DBM sa ating mahal na Pangulo. Napagusapan na sa IATF at ang ayuda ay ibibigay directly sa LGUs… Antayin na lang natin ang desisyon ng Pangulo,” said Go.

“Ang importante po dito ay may maibigay po na ayuda, may maibigay na tulong po, lalung-lalo na po sa mga mahihirap nating mga kababayan na talaga pong naghihirap po dahil dito sa Covid-19 na ito,” he added.

Go, earlier issued an appeal to the President, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Avisado and other concerned agencies to distribute a new round of aid to ease the burden carried by families who have experienced hardships as a result of the pandemic.

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“Matagal na akong nananawagan na kung ano pang natitirang pondo na hanapin na para makatulong sa ating mga kababayang mahihirap lalo na ang mga ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’ at wala pong inaasahan kundi magtrabaho po araw-araw,” Go said.

“Tandaan natin na itong mga ito ay meron pong pamilya at mga anak po na pinapakain (at binubuhay),” he added.

During the interview, Go further cited that the government has available funds of around P23 billion that can be used for the assistance. This was later on confirmed by Sec. Avisado in his interview.

“Sa ilalim ng Republic Act 11494 o Bayanihan Act, mayroon pong kapangyarihan ang Pangulo to adopt measures to respond to the crisis brought by COVID-19. Mayroon na pong na-certify ang Bureau of Treasury dati na total of 155 billion pesos. Na-utilize na ang 122 billion pesos. Mayroon silang natitirang 33 billion pesos, out of which 10 billion pesos is set aside for the implementation… ito po yung GUIDE bill,” Go explained and was later on confirmed by Avisado.

“Meaning, mayro’n pa po silang nakitang about P23-B na puwedeng pagkunan po ng pondo for the new Social Amelioration Program. I think ang rekomendasyon nila ay in-kind po ito,” he added.

In an interview on the same day, Secretary Avisado confirmed that preparations have been in place for the distribution of such aid and are awaiting final approval of the President.

Avisado shared that DBM is ready to download the needed funds to local government units once approved by the President. The LGUs, in turn, shall be responsible for distributing the aid to the intended beneficiaries.

Go appealed to Filipinos for patience and cooperation, assuring them that the government is doing everything to ease their burden during these challenging times.

“Sumunod lang tayo sa gobyerno at magmalasakit tayo sa kapwa. I am appealing sa national government na yung ayuda po ay bilisan niyo na po. Huwag niyo na pong tagalan dahil nagaantay po ang ating mga kababayan para dyan… ayaw natin may magutom na kababayan natin so pakiusap lang po — sa lalong madaling panahon ay bigyan natin ng ayuda ang mga mahihirap,” he ended.

Bong Go continues to help Filipinos recovering from crisis situations

Sends aid to families displaced by Davao City fire incident

The Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Thursday, March 25, extended additional aid to the residents of the Leon Garcia community in Agdao, Davao City after their houses were damaged during a fire which spread through the area late last year.

“Mga kababayan ko, huwag po tayong mag-alala dahil hindi kayo pababayaan ng gobyerno. Mag-cooperate lang tayo, magtulungan at magbayanihan. Malalampasan rin natin ang lahat ng pagsubok na ating hinaharap sa panahong ito,” Go said in a video message.

“Handa kami ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte, Mayor Sara, Vice Mayor Baste, Congressman Paolo Duterte at Congressman Vincent Garcia na magserbisyo sa inyo sa abot ng aming makakaya,” he continued.

A total of 66 beneficiary families were given meals, food and medicine packs, vitamins, medical-grade masks, and face shields during an activity conducted by the Senator’s team at the Leon Garcia Sr. National High School.

Selected recipients were provided new shoes or bicycles. Others were given computer tablets to help their children participate in the classes being carried out under the blended learning approach.

As part of ongoing government efforts to deliver assistance to communities recovering from crisis situations, personnel from the National Housing Authority were also present to assess households in need of financial support to repair their damaged houses.

The Departments of Health, and Social Welfare and Development had previously distributed hygiene kits with medicines as well as cash assistance and food packs, respectively.

“Malaki ang aking pasasalamat dahil nakatanggap ako ng bicycle at ng iba’t iba pang assistance. Salamat talaga, Senator Bong, para sa tulong ninyo sa aming mga nasunugan!” said Cesar Agabon.

“Nagpapasalamat rin kami sa NHA dahil sa wakas makakapagpatayo na kami ng aming mga bahay! Maraming salamat rin kay Senador para sa dinala niyang tulong dito sa aming lugar,” added Amelita Malata.

As vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order, Go committed to push for the enactment of a measure which will enhance the response capabilities of the Bureau of Fire Protection and help minimize the risk of similar accidents from reoccurring.

Senate Bill No. 1832, a bill he authored and co-sponsored, directs the BFP to implement a modernization program to facilitate the acquisition of new fire equipment, provision of specialized fire training, and hiring of more firefighters. It will also establish Fire Protection Services and rescue hotlines as well as mandate monthly fire prevention information drives in every local government unit.

SBN 1832 was passed on the third and final reading by the Senate last March 8.

“Kaya ko isinusulong ‘yung Fire Modernization [bill] para ma-modernize ang mga kagamitan ng ating mga bumbero. May information at education drives din ang nasabing bill kung saan tuturuan ang mga residente kung ano ang gagawin para makaiwas sa sunog,” explained Go.

“Bukod sa pagiging laging handa, dapat maging proactive rin tayo kung papaano maiiwasan ang mga ganitong insidente,” he added.

The Senator, as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, also encouraged everyone to prioritize their health while diligently following the government-issued protocols against COVID-19.

He offered to assist any beneficiary who cannot access medical care, and encouraged them to seek further aid from the government by visiting the Malasakit Center at the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

The center is a one-stop shop which provides patients quick access to the medical assistance programs offered by the DOH, DSWD, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The Senator went on to express his gratitude to the local officials for their efforts to serve and support the needs of the affected residents. He specifically thanked Leon Garcia Punong Barangay Lita Empis; Kagawad Tommy Rica, Citiaco Jorolan, Rowena Balbes, and Arturo Yu; Sangguniang Kabataan Chair Arian Sagusara; and NHA Regional Manager Zenaida Cabiles.

“Huwag kayong magpasalamat sa amin ni Pangulo Duterte dahil trabaho namin ang magserbisyo sa inyo. Kami ang dapat magpasalamat dahil binigyan n’yo kami ng pagkakataon para manilbihan. Makakaasa kayo na hindi namin sasayangin ang pagkakataon na ito,” pledged Go.

The distribution activity was conducted in batches to comply with minimum health standards in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Necessary health protocols were also in place throughout the activity.