By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — With less than two weeks left before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go hailed the significant gains achieved by the current administration in the span of six years to provide a more comfortable life for all Filipinos.
“As the aide of President Duterte for over 20 years, from 1998 until 2018 at the end of my stint as the Special Assistant to the President, I personally bore witness to President Duterte’s hard work and sacrifice to provide massive improvements in the lives of Filipinos,” Go remarked.
“Now as a senator and public servant, I continue reaching out to and supporting more Filipinos across the country who need our help the most. In so doing, I have also seen for myself the positive impact this administration has really brought to the lives of our people,” he added.
Among the notable feats under the leadership of President Duterte is the Build, Build, Build program, which sought to usher in the country’s “Golden Age of Infrastructure”.
In a recent report by the Department of Public Works and Highways, it was revealed that under the Duterte Administration, a total of 40,080 kilometers of roads and 6,854 bridges were constructed, maintained, widened, upgraded, strengthened, or rehabilitated.
The completed projects under the program include the final section of Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway, Plaridel By-Pass Road Phase II, North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link Segment 10, and C3-10 Section, Skyway Stage 3, and Alabang-Sucat Skyway Extension.
On April 5, Duterte and Go attended the inauguration of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila. The four-lane steel arch bridge is expected to handle 30,000 vehicles per day. More recently, on June 12, the President and Go personally witnessed the lowering of the Tunnel Boring Machine of the country’s first-ever Metro Manila Subway Project in Valenzuela City. Two days later, the senator also accompanied Duterte to the New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac, for an inspection of the National Academy of Sports.
Authored and co-sponsored by Go, Republic Act No. 11470 established the NAS, a government-run learning facility, that offers a secondary education program with an integrated special curriculum on sports.
Infrastructures were also constructed to provide basic social services, like 259 projects under the Center and Residential Care Facility program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; 157,383 classrooms and 2,315 school workshop buildings; 302 evacuation centers; 7,369 projects under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program; and 901 facilities equivalent to 33,236-bed capacity in We Heal As One Centers.
Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go himself has been instrumental in pushing for the funding of numerous infrastructure projects in various regions to promote a more equitable distribution of economic opportunities throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the National Housing Authority reported that under the current administration, it was able to provide 336,493 housing assistance and resettlement nationwide, covering internally displaced persons and informal settlers, among others.
Go said that these initiatives strongly reflect his own advocacy to expand affordable housing to more Filipinos, noting, “In 2019, I filed Senate Bill 203 or the proposed ‘National Housing Development, Production and Financing Act’ to institutionalize a program that will address the housing needs of our countrymen by generating and mobilizing sustainable funds for housing projects and encouraging greater public and private sector participation.”
The senator also filed SB 1227 or the Rental Subsidy Program Act, in the same year to help families displaced by disasters.
Also serving as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go remarked that he and President Duterte are likewise aware that many Filipinos hesitate to seek medical assistance even when necessary because of apprehension over mounting hospital costs. This prompted him to primarily author and sponsor the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.
“I conceptualized the Malasakit Centers program after witnessing first-hand the challenges Filipinos face in seeking financial and medical help from various government offices and agencies. Residents from other provinces would even come to the Davao City Hall only to seek various forms of assistance,” he shared.
“Patapos na ang termino ni Pangulong Duterte, ang tanong po dito (ay kung) maipagpapatuloy ba ito? Ako po’y nakikiusap sa susunod na mga mamamahala ng DOH, sa susunod na administrasyon, kung sa tingin n’yo naman pong nakakatulong po sa ating mga kababayan ay ipagpatuloy n’yo po ito na programa dahil nakakatulong po ito sa mga mahihirap. Umaasa po ako na maipagpapatuloy po ito dahil na-institutionalize na po itong Malasakit Center,” he continued.
To date, there are 151 Malasakit Centers that have assisted more than three million Filipinos nationwide — operating from Batanes all the way to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
To continue achieving the vision of the Duterte Administration in the years to come, Go vowed to continue supporting and pursuing policies that will provide a more comfortable life for all Filipinos. These include measures establishing the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR). He vowed to also continue to push for Mandatory Evacuation Centers in every local government unit, and the E-Governance Act, among others.
The VIP shall serve as the country’s principal laboratory for virology research, laboratory investigations, and technical coordination of the nationwide network of virology laboratories; while the CDC shall be the lead agency for developing communicable disease control and prevention initiatives.
On the other hand, DDR shall be a highly-specialized agency that will prepare against the devastating effects of climate change and ensure a more proactive approach to natural disasters.
Go pledged, “Bilang inyong senador, asahan niyo po lagi kong isusulong ang mga proyekto, panukala at adhikain na makakatulong sa bawat Pilipino. Para sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte, basta kapakanan ng mga Pilipino, ipaglalaban namin ‘yan hanggang sa huli.” (ai/mtvn)