“Mahirap maging mahirap. Kaya huwag na natin sila mas pahirapan pa.”
These were the words of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as he quoted a taxi driver who was interviewed on TV recently explaining the plight of the poor while most areas in the country are under enhanced community quarantine.
The Senator, during the Special Session on Monday, March 23, expressed his support for a proposed measure that further empowers and gives government the flexibility it needs to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country and to help Filipinos affected by it.
“Siguraduhin natin na magamit ang pera ng bayan ng tama. Siguraduhin natin na makarating ang tulong sa pinaka-nangangailangan at pinaka-mahihirap nating mga kababayan. Siguraduhin natin na walang pinipiling oras ang ating pagtulong at pagserbisyo sa bayan,” Go said during his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill (SB) No. 1418, also known as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”.
Go emphasized that the priority of the measure is to further equip government to be able to provide immediate healthcare needs to solve the health problem and defeat the virus and, at the same time, to provide cash and food assistance to those who are affected the most in the crisis.
Go reminded concerned agencies, particularly the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to make sure ordinary Filipinos are taken care of, especially those who need government attention the most.
“Siguraduhin natin na makakarating ang tulong sa mga mahihirap at sa mga taong pinaka-nangangailangan. Siguraduhin natin na nararamdaman ang tulong ng gobyerno ng mga taong pinaka-apektado sa krisis na ito – ang mga taong walang maaasahang iba, mga walang trabaho, at ‘yung mga walang savings. Tutukan natin ang mga vulnerable groups, tulad ng senior citizens, persons with disabilities, at indigent indigenous peoples,”
“Alalayan rin natin ang mga informal economy workers – mga vendors, Public Utility Vehicle drivers, tulad ng mga namamasadang taxi drivers, tricycle, bus, jeep at iba pa. Pati na rin po ang mga tisikad, pedikab, habal-habal at mga nagtatrabaho sa Transportation Network Vehicle Services o TNVS, katulad ng Grab, Angkas, Joyride. Lalong lalo na po ang mga kababayan natin na ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’ – mga daily wage earners na kinakailangang tumigil sa pagtatrabaho para maging ligtas mula sa pagkalat ng sakit na ito,” Go added.
Go said that as much as the government would want everyone to stay home, concerned agencies have to make sure that government is able to sufficiently provide Filipinos with the necessary means to take care of their families and ensure the security they need in order to remain in their homes.
“Responsibilidad natin na alagaan ang ating mga kababayan na pinilit nating hindi lumabas ng kanilang mga bahay. Nag-impose tayo ng strict measures para maprotektahan ang kalusugan nila pero hindi dapat doon nagtatapos ang responsibilidad natin sa pag-aalaga sa kanila,” Go explained.
Meanwhile, Go also appealed to his fellow Filipinos to put their trust in the government and follow the advice of the authorities to combat the spread of the disease.
“I appeal to my fellow Filipinos: magtiwala po kayo sa inyong gobyerno. Sumunod po tayo sa mga patakaran ng Inter-Agency Task Force (on Emerging Infectious Diseases). Wala po kaming ibang hangarin kung hindi ang kapakanan ninyo at kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino,” he said.
Citing the situation in other countries, Go also emphasized that COVID-19 spares no one. Therefore, cooperation from the public is needed to fight the disease.
“Nakita naman natin sa ibang bansa na mas mayaman at mas moderno kesa sa Pilipinas, pati sila tinamaan pa rin. Wala pong pinipili ang sakit na ito. Kaya napaka-importante ng kooperasyon ng bawat isa sa atin,” he noted.
Ending his statement, Go quoted President Rodrigo Duterte, saying “We are now in the fight of our lives.”
“Kung hindi tayo magkakaisa at kung hindi natin tutulungan ang ating gobyerno, siguradong matatalo tayo ng COVID-19,” he ended.
Go also reminded fellow servants in the government, particularly those in local government units and those leading our barangays, to set aside politics and be accountable to and united for the Filipino people.
“Unahin natin ang buhay at kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino,” Go said.