Tricycle drivers and operators expressed their gratitude to former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go for bringing their concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte.
In his message during the Tricycle Operators and Drivers Associations (TODA) Summit held Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City, NCR-TODA president Ismael Sevilla said the idea for the summit started with a chance encounter with Go in a carinderia (food stall).
“Natalisod lang po ako ng ating magiting na si SAP Bong Go. Siya po ang nagtanong sa akin at nakipagkwentuhan, nagtanong kung anong problema ng TODA. So nabanggit ko po lahat ng hinaing ng TODA,” Sevilla said.
He lamented that the last summit held to hear the concerns of TODA was in 2008 and since then their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
“Pero kay SAP Bong Go, sa kalsada lang kami nagkwentuhan at tingnan niyo naman narito na tayo at dinudulog na ang problema ng mga magta-tricycle. Sana hindi po dito nagtatapos ang ugnayan ng TODA at national government,” he said, as he also thanked President Duterte for personally attending the occasion to hear their concerns.
It was Go, he said, who initiated calls for the summit to hear the concerns of the country’s operators particularly on uniform regulations for their operations nationwide.
Speaking to the summit participants, Duterte endorsed the senatorial bid of Go as the Chief Executive vouched for the integrity of his top aide who served him for over 20 years, calling him as “mabait” (kind) and “honest.”
The President also emphasized how Go can be the “voice of the masse” given his experience working for him and finding ways to address the concerns of his constituents.
“If you want an honest (man), saka masa (si Bong Go). Marunong itong magdiskarte sa kapwa tao niya kasi natuto sa akin. (Maka) masa talaga yan,” the President added.
Go earlier thanked the government agencies that participated in the TODA summit.
“Taos puso po akong nagpapapasalamat sa 18 government agencies at sa lahat ng nakiisa para isaganap ang pagtitipong ito,” Go said, noting that some 15,000 tricycle operators and drivers received various forms of assistance during the event.
He acknowledged the important contribution of the tricycle drivers and operators in their respective communities.
“Araw-araw, milyun-milyong kababayan natin ang hinahatid ninyo nang ligtas sa kanilang paroroonan. Mapipilay ang ekonomiya ng ating bansa kung walang mga tricycle na pumapasada,” he added.
The whole-day summit also included lectures on road safety from the Metro Manila Development Authority, as well as a forum on livelihood programs and skills training conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
For its part, the Land Transportation Office set up a one-stop shop for renewal of driver’s license, registration of vehicles, and similar transactions.
Other government agencies like the Social Security System, Philhealth, and PAG-IBIG also set up booths to encourage drivers to apply for membership.
The Commission on Higher Education informed TODA members that their children are eligible to apply in various scholarships programs of the agency.
The former presidential aide also shared with the TODA members his plans to help lessen the burden of ordinary Filipinos, including the establishment of Malasakit Center in all the country’s provinces and urban centers.
“Isa sa mga gagawin ko ay ang patuloy na pag-establish ng Malasakit Center sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa,” Go said.
He said the Malasakit Center is meant to make it easier and faster for poor patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room all concerned agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PAGCOR, PCSO, and Philhealth.
Apart from health, Go said he has also programs for agriculture, anti-illegal drugs and criminality, education, long-term sports development, anti-corruption, fire protection and prevention, localized peace talks, creation of a Department of OFW, barangay welfare and improved benefits for senior citizens.