“Give to HCWs what is due them” says Bong Go

As he lauds approval of additional funds for their special risk allowance

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed the recent approval of additional budget to cover the payment of the COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance to healthcare workers (HCWs) who are yet to receive the benefit.

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the release of PhP1.185 billion charged against the 2021 Contingent Fund to cover the SRA of eligible private HCWs and non-Department of Health plantilla personnel who are directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients.

“Nararapat lamang na mabigyan sila ng dagdag na kompensasyon bilang pagkilala sa kanilang sakripisyo. Kailanman ay hindi sila pababayaan ng gobyerno,” the senator said.

“Ang ating mga medical frontliners ay ang mga sundalo sa gyerang ito. Sila ang tinuturing nating bayani sa laban kontra COVID-19. Bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Health, ipaglalaban ko ang karapatan at kapakanan nila palagi,” he added.

The Department of Budget and Management has previously released PhP8.189 billion for SRA benefits which covered 497,043 HCWs.

Earlier, Go urged concerned authorities to exercise flexibility in implementing the terms of the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, which serves as the legal basis for the SRA.

“Bigyan natin ng sapat na suporta ang medical frontliners. Bawat araw ay nasa panganib ang kanilang buhay. Siguraduhin nating mabibigyan ang lahat ng qualified healthcare workers ng Special Risk Allowance at iba pang insentibo o benepisyo na naaayon sa batas,” appealed Go.

“Kaya ako umaapela na maging flexible tayo sa pag-iimplementa ng nakasaad sa batas at kung kakayanin ng pondo ay bigyan na ang lahat ng qualified ng fixed na amount ng SRA kaysa bilangin pa natin ang kanilang pag-duty bawat araw,” he added.

To guarantee that their contributions are adequately recognized, Go also expressed his support for extending the SRA to all HCWs working in hospitals. Given the significant number of COVID-19 cases admitted in the country’s healthcare institutions, he pointed out that practically all HCWs are entitled to the benefit.

“Lahat naman ng health workers na naka-duty ay maituturing na exposed sa banta ng COVID-19. Hindi nakikita ang kalaban na ito kung kaya’t mahirap paghiwalayin pa kung sino ang exposed at sino ang hindi,” noted Go.

“Pagdating mo sa ospital, ‘di mo naman masasabi. Once nasa loob ka na, prone at maituturing na exposed ka na rin. Hindi mo masabi na walang virus sa dinaanan mong floor dahil dito lang ang virus kasi hindi nga natin nakikita ang kalaban,” he explained in an earlier interview.

Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2421 which will provide health workers with a fixed monthly COVID-19 Risk Allowance for the duration of the current State of Emergency in lieu of the special risk allowance and other financial compensation granted under the Bayanihan 2. Under the measure, those eligible for the benefits will include all healthcare workers and other necessary personnel assigned in health facilities.

Go also successfully pushed for the allocation of PhP51 billion in the 2022 budget for the compensation of COVID-19 HCWs. He went on to stress that the government should do everything possible to help HCWs, considering their critical role in fighting the pandemic and preserving lives.

“As much as possible, kung kakayanin naman ng pondo, ibigay na natin lahat ng suportang pwede nating ibigay sa medical frontliners dahil sila naman ang maituturing na mga bayani sa laban na ito,” Go stressed.

In 2019, Go was also instrumental in the enactment of the Salary Standardization Law 5, as its author and co-sponsor. The law gives civilian government employees, including nurses, their fifth round of salary increases broken down in tranches.

In the same year, he also ensured that sufficient funding was allotted for the implementation of a Supreme Court decision upholding Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, some 18 years after the law was enacted. The law increases the minimum salary grade of the Nurse I position to SG-15. The ruling was implemented the following year.

Matina fire victims receive immediate aid from 1st Congressional District Office

DAVAO CITY – The office of the First Congressional District Representative Paolo “Pulong’ Duterte immediately extends much-needed assistance to fire victims at Bolton Bridge, SIR Matina, Davao City on Saturday, January 15.

The First Congressional District Office dispatched their staff to the evacuation area to supply relief aid such as food packs (rice and canned goods), toiletries, tents, and portable toilets for some 39 families affected by the incident.

While everyone is trying to recuperate from the incident, Rep. Duterte said they would also provide hot meals for the victims’ breakfast and dinner for five consecutive days starting on Sunday as they assess the situation.

“[For the relocation of the victims] mag-agad ta sa desisyon sa lokal nga kagamhanan ug asa sila patukuron ug mga bagong panimalay. Andam mutabang ang congressional district office pinaagi sa Pulong-pulong ni Pulong,” Rep. Duterte said.

Duterte said affected individuals with health concerns could also seek medical support from the office. The First Congressional District Office has provided relief assistance to anyone in need of timely aid, especially during this pandemic.

Initial investigation of the Davao firefighters revealed more or less 50 houses were either gutted down or damaged by fire on Saturday at around 9 a.m. at Bolton Bridge 1 and 2 – connecting to Quimpo Boulevard. The victims evacuated to a nearby area.

The firefighters were able to control the fire around 10:49 a.m. But authorities refrain the vehicles from passing the bridge pending the approval of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The responders reported cracks on the bridge due to the incident.

Total lockdown rumors dismissed by Palace

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles
Acting Spokesperson
08 January 2022

On the audio clip and baseless rumors about a ‘total lockdown’

We have come across an audio clip that has been shared via personal messages and social media, in which a male speaker warns the public to stock up on essential supplies as the government is considering placing the country under a “total lockdown.”

This is a false and baseless statement.

We reiterate our appeal to the public to dismiss these unfounded and malicious rumors and to refrain from sharing these with our family and friends. As I said in our press briefing yesterday, our country is dealing with a real threat that understandably concerns our people, and spreading these unverified rumors contributes to unnecessary anxiety and needless panic. Hindi po ito nakakatulong.

Let me also reiterate that the Department of Agriculture has given assurances that our inventory for basic food commodities, particularly rice, indicates that we have more than enough supplies to last for more than the next three months, enough until the next harvest season in April. According to the Department of Agriculture, the same also holds true for lowland and highland vegetables, which is at 85 percent and 107 percent sufficiency level, respectively.

While we encourage the public to keep informed about the latest developments in our battle against COVID, we urge everyone to obtain their news and information from credible sources, dismiss disinformation, and contribute positively in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID by observing minimum public health standards and by getting vaccinated in order to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

PRRD signs national budget for 2022

Bong Go emphasizes proper and timely use of funds critical in pandemic efforts and economic recovery

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on Thursday, December 30, the last national budget under his administration, a measure that is critical in implementing the government’s pandemic response and in ensuring the country’s economic recovery.

In his speech, Duterte expressed his gratitude to Congress for expediting the ratification of the national budget. He went on to note that the passage of the 2022 budget demonstrates the ‘healthy collaboration’ among all branches of the government, which is crucial in achieving national development goals, especially in these hard times.

“As we mark the signing of the 2022 budget and other laws, let us all emulate Rizal’s heroism and courage by serving the country with dedication and accountability by doing what is right and just for our people,” Duterte added.

The President also stated that the 2022 budget is critical in maintaining the recovery momentum and sustaining the legacy of infrastructure development.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go commended the President for the timely signing of the budget, saying, “The signing is timely as we continue to deal with the pandemic and the recent onslaught of Typhoon Odette on our people and economy.”

“Nagpapasalamat naman ako sa mga kasamahan ko sa Lehislatibo at kay Pangulong Duterte sa agarang pagsasabatas ng 2022 General Appropriations Act. Sobrang napakahalaga ng budget na ito lalo na at patuloy nating nilalabanan ang pandemya at inaalalayan ang ating mga kababayang lubhang naapektuhan ng bagyong Odette,” he added.

The senator also urged government agencies to ensure the proper use of the funds, saying, “Kaya hinihimok ko ang mga kasamahan ko sa gobyerno na gamitin nang tama ang pondong inilaan upang agarang maihatid ang mga serbisyo at tulong na nararapat sa ating mga mamamayan.”

“Dapat walang masayang ni piso sa kaban ng bayan. Tiyakin nating magiging kasangkapan ang pondo ng gobyerno upang mapadali ang pagbangon ng ating bansa sa pagpasok ng Bagong Taon,” he added.

The senator then expressed his confidence that the budget was carefully considered in order to meet the demands of the Filipino people, particularly in these difficult times, and to enable the government to provide a comfortable life for all.

“Tiwala ako na ang budget na ito ay napapanahon at angkop upang tuluyan nating malampasan ang kasalukuyang pandemya at iba pang krisis sa bansa. Maipagpapatuloy din natin ang iba’t ibang programa at proyekto ng kasalukuyang administrasyon,” he stressed.

According to Go, the government continues to implement all necessary measures to save and protect lives. Also already included in the 2022 budget is an increased funding for COVID-19 response.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go successfully advocated budgetary support for the continuous implementation of the Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment, and Reintegration strategy, the emergency hiring of COVID-19 Human Resources for Health, and hiring and training of contact tracers.

“We also ensured there would be sufficient funding for the following activities and programs: COVID-19 benefits and compensation for our healthcare workers who are at the forefront of our battle against COVID-19; COVID-19 Laboratory Network Commodities to further enhance our testing capacity; and Epidemiology and Surveillance program to strengthen our disease surveillance,” Go explained.

“We also increased the budget of our National Reference Laboratories, such as RITM, to capacitate them to do genome sequencing in light of the new emerging variants, and support for the operations of DOH hospitals across the country,” he added.

To further beef up protection against the virus, the government also ensured funding for COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. He however emphasized the need for continued cooperation from the public in order to fully recover from the pandemic.

“Subalit, hindi naman kaya ng gobyernong sugpuin ang pandemya na mag-isa. Kaya dapat patuloy ang pakikiisa at kooperasyon ng lahat. Tandaan natin na hindi porke’t pwede nang lumabas at gumala ay hindi na tayo mag-iingat,” he said.

“Ang ating pagmamalasakit sa kapwa at pagiging disiplinado ay makakapagligtas ng buhay ng mga kapwa natin Pilipino. Kaya sama-sama po tayong maging instrumento ng pag-asa at mas ligtas na komunidad sa pagsalubong ng Bagong Taon!,” Go ended.

Go hails granting of Service Recognition Incentive to government employees and uniformed personnel

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval to grant a cash incentive to qualified civilian government employees and uniformed personnel in recognition of their hard work and contributions to the country especially amid the challenging year.

The President issued Administrative Order No. 45 on December 24, 2021. The Order authorizes the granting of a Service Recognition Incentive (SRI) amounting to a maximum of P10,000 to all regular, contractual and casual personnel, provided they are still in government service as of November 30, have rendered at least four months of service, and have not received any additional year-end benefits.

“The granting of this incentive recognizes the critical role that government workers play in nation-building. Patunay din ito sa kagustuhan ng gobyerno na mabigyan ng pagpapahalaga ang kanilang mga sakripisyo, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya,” said Go.

“Ensuring the continuing delivery of government services has become particularly more challenging as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic. Hindi madali ang panahon ngayon. Naging mas challenging pa ang kanilang trabaho dahil nahaharap tayo sa maraming pagsubok,” he continued.

Under AO No. 45, those who have rendered service for less than four months shall be entitled to a pro-rated share of the SRI from 40% to 10%. Meanwhile, employees in the legislative and judicial branches and local government units may also be granted the SRI, subject to the same conditions.

The SRI aims to ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic on many government personnel as well as to incentivize fiscal prudence and efficient utilization of funds by the concerned agencies.

For the employees in the executive branch, the SRI will be charged against the released Personnel Services or Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses allotments, or in the case of a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation, the approved corporate operating budget.

The SRI will also be chargeable against the respective budgets of the Senate, House of Representatives, Judiciary, Office of the Ombudsman and other offices.

The Order excludes consultants and experts, laborers, student workers and apprentices, and individuals and groups whose services are engaged through job orders, contracts of service, and other similar employment schemes.

In 2018, President Duterte fulfilled his campaign promise of increasing the salaries of the military and uniformed personnel when he signed Joint Resolution No. 1 which doubled the base pay of a private in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, police officer I in the Philippine National Police, and the equivalent ranks in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

Go also authored and co-sponsored the measure which became Republic Act No. 11466 or the “Salary Standardization Law 5” in 2019 to further enhance the welfare of civilian government employees. The law gives them their fifth round of salary increases which are broken down in tranches.

He has consistently pushed for measures recognizing the hardwork and service of government frontliners. Among these is Senate Bill No. 391, also known as the “Magna Carta for Barangays Act”, which he filed in the Senate that aims to provide barangay officials additional compensation similarly accorded to a regular government employee as well as other benefits to promote their welfare in return for the services they render in their respective communities.