By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go recognized the invaluable
contributions of Filipino seafarers to the country’s economic
development as he personally celebrated with them the Day of Seafarers
on Friday, June 25 in Intramuros, Manila.
“Happy anniversary po sa inyo sa lahat ng ating marino, sa inyong
pagdiriwang po ng 11th anniversary ng Day of the Seafarers. Sa lahat
po ng mga seafarers, ipaglalaban ko po kayo,” Go said.
“Kami ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte, handa po kaming magserbisyo sa
inyo sa abot ng aming makakaya….that is why the Duterte
Administration, through the Maritime Industry Authority under the
Department of Transportation, has been working hard to provide
concrete plans of action to ensure that you are looked after in these
difficult and challenging times,” he added.
Go reiterated his concern for the plight of more than ten million
overseas Filipinos, including seafarers, and their families amid the
ongoing pandemic, as well as other crisis situations happening around
“Higit kumulang sampung porsyento ng ating populasyon ang nasa abroad.
Mahirap po mawalay sa sariling bayan para lang buhayin ang pamilya at
mabigyan ng mas magandang kinabukasan ang inyong mga anak. Bilang
mambabatas, gagawin ko ang lahat upang maipaglaban ang inyong
kapakanan,” Go earlier said.
The Senator has been pushing for the immediate passage of Senate Bill
No. 2234, which aims to establish the Department of Migrant Workers
and Overseas Filipinos. The measure, which was earlier certified as
urgent by the President, was co-sponsored by Go in the Senate taking
into consideration earlier bills he also authored.
The proposed department will be primarily mandated to formulate,
recommend and implement national policies, plans, programs and
guidelines that protect overseas Filipinos, including OFWs, as well as
promote their interests and resolve issues concerning them in a timely
and effective manner.
The DMWOF will be responsible for providing all relevant social and
welfare services, including insurance, social work assistance and
legal assistance, as well as administer reintegration and social
service programs to overseas Filipinos. It shall also provide
Assistance to Nationals services, especially during times of national
emergencies, such as pandemic or war.
Go echoed President Duterte’s call to hasten the passage of the
proposed law as this will provide a more efficient,
whole-of-government approach in promoting the welfare and interest of
“Isipin niyo more than ten million Filipinos po ang overseas
Filipinos, OFWs na wala man lang sariling departamentong nakatutok sa
kanila. Kaya kahit saan po nananawagan, sa Facebook, minsan po sa
radyo humihingi ng tulong,” he lamented.
“Ngayon, kung mayroon ng departamentong nakatutok sa kanila, iisa na
lang po ang lalapitan nila, nakatutok (na) secretary-level down to
regional offices ‘yung nasa malayo sa ating bansa. Hindi na po sila
kailangang pumunta sa Maynila — sa iba’t ibang ahensya — dahil mayroon
na ho silang departamento,” he explained.
“Sabi ko po, huwag nating ipagkait sa Pilipino kung ano po ‘yung
nararapat sa kanila, lalong-lalo na sa ating OFWs, seafarers —
overseas Filipinos. Itinuturing nga natin silang mga bagong bayani, so
bigyan natin sila ng departamentong nakatutok po sa kanila,” he added.
Carrying on with his message, Go said to the seafarers that as they
wait for the creation of DMWOF, his office is ready to listen and
assist them with their concerns. He also reassured them that the
government is working hard to provide services to ensure their
well-being during these difficult times.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go expressed his concern
for numerous Filipinos who are reluctant to get inoculated. He, then,
appealed to the seafarers to take part in the vaccination program as
this will further protect them against COVID-19 and allow them to
continue with their livelihoods.
“Magpabakuna ho kayo, huwag ho kayong matakot sa bakuna. Ang bakuna po
ang solusyon o susi para makabalik tayo sa ating normal na pamumuhay
kung saan mayakap natin ang ating kapwa Pilipino,” Go said.
Go earlier successfully appealed to the national government to include
the overseas workers, including the seafarers, in the A4 priority list
for COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
The President also approved Go’s subsequent recommendation to allocate
specific brands of vaccines for OFWs which are considered ‘acceptable’
in their countries of destination and ports of entry.
Meanwhile, Go also offered additional assistance to the seafarers with
medical concerns and advised them that they can visit any of the 121
Malasakit Centers nationwide. These centers will provide convenient
access to medical assistance programs to cover their hospital and
medical related expenses.
To further help struggling migrant workers, the Department of Labor
and Employment and the Department of Agriculture extended alternative
livelihood assistance to qualified seafarer beneficiaries. DOLE will
give a start-up capital to the qualified recipients, while DA will
introduce micro-agribusiness, such as vegetable or fruit stand, rice
mill, coconut juice kiosk, and many others.
On the same day, Senator Go, then, proceeded to witness the
vaccination rollout to Filipino seafarers where he and his team
distributed additional aid to 550 identified beneficiaries.
Go then thanked and recognized the hard work of MARINA and other
concerned agencies in promoting the welfare of seafarers and other
“Sa inyong administrator na si Sir Bob Empedrad, salamat sa inyong
trabaho. Sabi nga niya kanina, marami raw siyang reforms na ginawa
rito,” Go said while acknowledging other officials for their untiring
“Sa mga seafarers, naiintindihan ko po ang trabaho ninyo, hindi po
nababayaran ang lungkot. Sa totoo lang po, mas nanaisin niyong dito na
lang sa ating bansa kaysa mapalayo sa pamilya, malayo iniisip niyo.
Pero kailangan niyo pong magtrabaho kaya pakiusap ko po sa inyo — sa
mga seafarers — nandidiyan lang po ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat lalo
na sa pagpapabakuna,” Go added. (AI/MTVN)