SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go commended President Rodrigo Duterte for an inspiring State of the Nation Address that articulated the government’s plans, goals and vision for a better future for Filipinos despite the challenges the country is facing brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Go, “the President was able to clearly lay down measures in his speech that will strengthen the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, address the immediate needs of the people to overcome the hardships, and sustain the gains of the administration in fulfilling its promise of a comfortable life for all.”
“Most of all, the speech emphasized how important it is for Filipinos to stay united in the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ and ‘malasakit sa kapwa tao’ in order for us to achieve our goals and lead our country towards a ‘better normal’ and better quality of life despite the challenges that we are currently facing,” Go said.
Go is also hopeful that once a vaccine is made available to counter the COVID-19 disease, the government shall ensure that this will be made accessible to Filipinos who need it most.
“Paghandaan natin at pagplanuhan na para masigurong mabibigyan lahat ng Pilipinong mangangailangan nito, hindi lang ang mga may kaya sa buhay. Unahin po natin ang kapakanan ng mga mahihirap,” he stressed.
Go commended the President’s efforts disclosed in his fifth SONA given on July 27, that there are ongoing discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping to guarantee the country’s early access to the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.
President Duterte mentioned in his SONA that days ago, he discussed with Republic of China President Xi Jinping the possibility of China providing assistance to the Philippines in accessing the vaccine once it is made available in order for the country to “normalize as fast as possible.”
To support these ongoing efforts, the Senator, who serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, pledged to fight for the needed budget for the procurement and subsequent production of the vaccine once it is available.
“Ang buong mundo po ay naghihintay sa bakuna laban sa COVID-19 upang bumalik sa normal ang kanilang mga pamumuhay. Sa panahon na matuklasan na ito, dapat po ay handa tayo,” he added.
In an interview at the Senate earlier in the day, Go repeated his call for the equitable access to the vaccine once it is available. He shared that the government had allocated PhP 1.5 billion as the country prepares to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, an international initiative to fast track the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and to guarantee their availability especially to poorer countries.
Meanwhile, Go also lauded the decision of the President to not yet allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available and until all risks of exposure to sickness are eliminated.
The Senator stressed that the government must first and foremost protect human life above all else. He expressed concern that many Filipino children in poor and isolated communities still lack access to basic health services and remain highly vulnerable to preventable diseases.
"Sa anumang desisyong gagawin ng gobyerno, buhay muna bago lahat ang uunahin natin,” said Go.
Moreover, Go urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology to accelerate efforts to provide universal and affordable internet access which would benefit the transition to E-governance, E-commerce and E-learning of various sectors.
Go added that expanding the availability of the internet and increasing digital opportunities will contribute to continuous learning and development especially for the youth.
Earlier in the day, Go filed a measure institutionalizing the transition of the government to e-governance in the digital age amid the current challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill No. 1738, or the E-Governance Act of 2020, mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and interoperable information and resource-sharing and communications network spanning the entirety of the national and local government, an internal records management information system, an information database, and digital portals for the delivery of public services.