Go & Duterte

Bong Go lauds PRRD for improving gov’t response amid trying times

July 30, 2021 People's Tonight 519 views

IN response to his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said President Rodrigo Duterte’s most lasting legacy will be the reforms he put in place to make government more efficient, responsive and effective in its delivery of public services amid the changing times.

The senator, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, especially praised the President for the meaningful progress made towards making health services more affordable and accessible to millions of lower-income Filipinos during his administration.

The Universal Health Care Law, which was enacted in 2019, automatically enrolls Filipinos into the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation in order to protect them from high out-of-pocket medical costs.

“We want to eliminate the idea of health care as an entitlement and as a privilege of the few who can afford to pay. Under the law, every Filipino shall be included in the NHIP, either as a direct or indirect contributor, to reduce the risk of them being pushed into poverty due to medical debt,” Go explained.

Go also highlighted the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which he principally authored and sponsored in the Senate. The law streamlines the provision of medical assistance by bringing together the relevant government agencies under one roof, namely PhilHealth, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Its aim is to reduce a hospital bill to the lowest possible amount by covering various patient services and expenses. As of writing, there are 130 Malasakit Centers nationwide which have assisted over two million poor and indigent patients altogether.

”By establishing Malasakit Centers all over the country, we have leveled the playing field and provided our less fortunate countrymen the medical care that they deserve. Hindi na kailangan lumapit at humingi ng tulong sa iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno. Ang gobyerno na ang lumalapit sa tao,” Duterte stated in his speech.

In addition to these, the Senator further noted the efforts of the administration to empower local health systems to deliver high-value care in rural and low-income areas through the recent enactment of 13 local hospital measures which the President signed into law earlier in June.

Go had sponsored the bills which establish or improve the capacity of existing hospitals around the county, specifically in Quezon City; Mandaluyong City; Sinait, Ilocos Sur; Naguilian and Rosario, La Union; Rosales, Pangasinan; Palo and Tacloban City, Leyte; Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Rizal, Palawan; Misamis Occidental; Medina, Misamis Oriental; and Malita, Davao Occidental.

In terms of safeguarding the future of Filipino children through education, the Senator hailed the successes of the Free Higher Education program which was created under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which was enacted into law in 2017.

The program has assisted around 1.6 million students from various state and local universities and colleges, as of May 2021. The government has also sponsored the enrolment of more than 500,000 primarily disadvantaged students through the Tertiary Education Subsidy under the said Act.

To cushion the impacts of the COVID-19’s fallout in other sectors, Go has previously pushed for more assistance to vulnerable sectors which were enacted through the Bayanihan 1 and 2 that reinforced the healthcare system, shored up small businesses and other hard-hit sectors, and provided aid to low-income households.

“We moved quickly to safeguard the well-being of every Filipino through preventive and responsive health and safety measures, and broad and inclusive social amelioration programs. Thanks to the support of Congress, we launched the most extensive Social Protection Program in our country’s history,” said the President.

The Bayanihan 2 specifically allocated a total of P165.5 billion as the COVID-19 recovery fund, with P140 billion for regular appropriation and another P25.5 billion as standby funds. It included P53 billion for health care, P39.5 billion for government financial and lending institutions, and P24 billion in subsidies for businesses in agriculture and fishing, currently the largest sector in terms of employment.

To support micro, small and medium enterprises which constitute 99% of local businesses, Go has recommended the provision of additional support for the economic sector. The government then launched the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso Program which has benefited over 219,000 micro-entrepreneurs.

The program aims to help micro-entrepreneurs optimize their potential and achieve growth through alternative sources of funding. It provides accessible financing which is tailor-fit to each entrepreneur’s business objectives, needs and cash flows, to bring down interest rates and replace the 5-6 microfinance scheme.

Prior to this, civilian government personnel, including public teachers and nurses, also received an increase in their salaries with the passing of the Salary Standardization Law 5 in 2020 which was one of the priority measures authored by Go.

“Kailangang ituloy ang pagbabago na sinimulan ni Pangulong Duterte para sa kinabukasan ng ating bayan at sa susunod na henerasyon. Isa lang pakiusap ko sa mga susunod na administrasyon, sana ipagpatuloy niyo ang mga programa ng administrasyong ito na walang ibang hangarin kundi magbigay ng serbisyong mabilis, maayos, at maaasahan para sa bawat Pilipino,” appealed Go.

In his speech, President Duterte renewed his call for the passage of nine bills filed by Go. They include SBN 2234 which establishes the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos; SBN 2158 which establishes the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention; SBN 2155 which establishes the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines; SBN 1832 which provides for the implementation of a fire protection modernization program; SBN 1738 or the E-Governance Bill; SBN 1419 which addresses the concerns of the pension and retirement pay for military and uniformed personnel; SBN 1228 which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every local government unit; SBN 393 which provides free legal assistance to MUP; and SBN 205 which establishes the Department of Disaster Resilience.