SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go, on Tuesday, July 13, sent his team to Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur to provide relief and additional aid to 1,500 pandemic-hit workers composed of Tricycle Operators and Drivers’ Association members, event personnel, carinderia and sari-sari store operators and ambulant vendors.
“Magandang araw po sa inyong lahat, mga kababayan ko. Kumusta po kayo? Sana po’y nasa mabuti kayong kalagayan. Alam ko pong mahirap ang panahon ngayon, nasa krisis po tayo dulot ng COVID-19 pandemic,” greeted Go in a video message.
The senator also urged those eligible to get vaccinated, especially economic frontliners and essential workers, not to fear the COVID-19 vaccines and get inoculated immediately to ensure that they are protected from the virus while helping the community eventually attain herd immunity.
“Mga kababayan ko, ang bakuna po ang pag-asa natin dito. Magtiwala ho kayo sa bakuna. Ang bakuna po ang tanging susi para unti-unti na tayong makabalik sa ating normal na pamumuhay,” said Go.
“Ang ating target ngayon ay makamtan natin ang population protection at herd immunity po. Sana po bago mag-Pasko para naman po sumaya ang ating Pasko. Sa mga nasa priority list na po, magpabakuna na po kayo. At sa mga nabakunahan na po ng two doses, mga kababayan ko, huwag ho kayong maging kumpiyansa,” he added.
Go’s staff held the distribution of assistance at the Lapuyan Central School where they gave out meals, masks, face shields, and vitamins to beneficiaries. The distribution activity was held in small batches to ensure necessary health and safety protocols were strictly followed.
Selected recipients were also given new pairs of shoes or bicycles that they can use for a more hassle-free commute given the limited transportation options. Furthermore, other beneficiaries received computer tablets that would benefit their children to easily access educational materials and participate better during classes.
To further help the workers, representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development granted each beneficiary with financial assistance through its program for individuals in crisis situations. The Department of Health distributed masks and conducted free medical check-ups while the Department of Agriculture gave away vegetable seeds.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, on the other hand, offered skills training to qualified beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment assessed those who are eligible for their various livelihood and employment programs.
The Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, then, assured the beneficiaries with health concerns that the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center in Pagadian City and Margosatubig Regional Hospital in Margosatubig town have Malasakit Centers where they can conveniently avail of medical assistance to help settle their health-related expenses.
The center is a one-stop shop where Filipinos, particularly poor and indigent patients, can conveniently access medical assistance from concerned government agencies, such as DSWD, DOH, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
There are now 128 Malasakit Centers in the country since the program was initiated by Go in February 2018, with the latest opened on July 10 at the Lianga District Hospital in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. It is now institutionalized through the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 which Go authored and sponsored in the Senate, then eventually signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2019.
To boost regional development and economic growth, Go, as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, also supported the funding of various infrastructure projects in Lapuyan. Among these are the concreting of the Junction (ARCP 2) Coastal Highway from Brgy. Bualan in Kumalarang to Brgy. Mandeg in Lapuyan.
Other projects in Zamboanga del Sur supported by Go also include the construction of Multi-Purpose Buildings in Aurora, Dimataling, Dinas, Kumalarang, and Pagadian City; concreting of roads in Dimataling, Dinas, Dumalinao, Midsalip, Kumalarang Molave, and Mahayag; improvement of infrastructure and provision of medical equipment to Margosatubig Regional Hospital; and the provision of an ambulance for the city of Pagadian, among others.
Go, then, lauded the local government officials for spearheading the pandemic efforts in their communities. Among the officials were 1st District Representative Divina Grace Yu, 2nd District Representative Jun Babasa, Governor Victor Yu, Vice Governor Roseller Ariosa, and many others.
Concluding his message, Go urged everyone to focus on beating the pandemic than the upcoming elections. He also urged Filipinos to continue helping each other during these tough times.
“Mga kababayan ko focus muna tayo ngayon dito sa pagbabakuna. Mamaya na po ‘yung politika dahil baka wala na po tayong politikang pag-uusapan ‘pag hindi po natin nalampasan itong krisis na ating kinakaharap. Importante muna focus tayo sa ating pagbabakuna. Focus tayo na malampasan itong krisis na ito,” urged Go.
“Iyon po ang dapat nating isipin parati dahil kapakanan po ng bawat Pilipino ang nakataya dito. Kaya kailangan nating magtulungan mga kababayan ko,” he ended.
On July 12, Go distributed similar assistance to thousands of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association members, carenderia and sari-sari store operators, ambulant vendors, and event personnel in Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur.