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.

House to probe Mindanao Railway Project


The House of Representatives is set to do an inquiry on the Mindanao Railway Project’s (MRP) expropriation and acquisition of the road right of way.

In House Resolution No. 2321, Representatives Paolo Z. Duterte and Eric Go Yap called for the investigation, in aid of legislation, on the Department of Transportation’s Mindanao Railway Project in particular the Phase 1 of the said project.

Phase 1 of MRP covers a 105-kilometer line that covers Davao del Norte, Davao City and Davao del Sur with eight stations located in Tagum City, Carmen, Panabo City, Mudiang, Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos City.

The two congressmen said that they have received various reports about the “variations in the offers for acquisition of road right of way (RROW) or expropriation of the private properties by the DOTr and/or its contractors, sub-contractors, or other service providers.”

These variations in offers, Reps. Duterte and Yap said, have substantial discrepancies from the actual zonal value or fair market value of the properties affected.

The House inquiry aims to revisit existing laws and rules on the manner of acquisition of right of way and expropriation of private properties affected by government works, infrastructure, and other projects and to strengthen the same or come up with new and better mechanisms to ensure that all affected stakeholders, whether from the public or private sector, are adequately compensated and protected by applicable laws and rules.

In a phone interview Thursday, October 28, Rep. Duterte said they received information that some individuals were buying properties along the 105 kilometer line at a very low price and are selling it to DOTr at a higher price.

Added to this, the Dabawenyo congressman said, some landowners have also been opposing the construction of the railway project right smack at some of the existing subdivisions in Davao City.

The young Duterte said some of the affected barangays are planning on coming out with a resolution opposing the said project.

Phase 1 of the MRP has a budget of P35.91 billion.

New Bicol International Airport part of Duterte Legacy

As Bong Go highlights PH’s Golden Age of Infrastructure

President Rodrigo Duterte, together with Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and other officials, attended the inauguration of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga town, Albay province on Thursday, October 8. The BIA, considered the first international airport in Luzon south of the National Capital Region, is expected to boost tourism and economic development in the Bicol Region.

“Kahit sa gitna ng pandemya, nananatiling nagsusumikap ang ating pamahalaan para ipagpatuloy ang mga mahahalagang proyekto sa ating komunidad,” said Go.

“Ito ay patunay ng malasakit at dedikasyon ng Duterte Administration sa paglilingkod sa buong taumbayan. Sisiguraduhin nating walang maiiwan sa ating pagbangon mula sa krisis,” he added.

The airport includes a 2,500-meter runway with take-off capabilities and night landing, as well as cargo and passenger terminal and an air traffic control tower, fire station, parking lot, and amenities.

According to the Department of Transportation, the BIA, dubbed as the “most scenic gateway”, generated 755 jobs during its construction and is set to create 1,100 more indirect jobs once operations commence.

In the country’s so-called Golden Age of Infrastructure, Go told Filipinos that no region will be left behind, saying “Hindi po natin nakakalimutan isama ang Bicol Region sa Golden Age of Infrastructure ng ating bansa.”

“Tiyak po ako na ang bagong pasilidad na ito ay makakatulong sa paglago sa Bicol, lalo na sa sektor ng turismo habang dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ating ekonomiya,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go also reassured the public that he will continue to pursue the completion and expansion of infrastructure development initiatives to achieve a more equitable economic development across the country.

Go has been vocal in his support for the country’s infrastructure development. He said that the construction of new airports will bring in jobs and economic opportunities outside Metro Manila and will provide livelihood to Filipinos, especially those who were left jobless due to the pandemic.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Go has strongly supported the funding of numerous infrastructure initiatives nationwide.

“Walang humpay ang ating paglilingkod. Pinag-aaralan natin ang lahat ng posibleng paraan na maaaring makapagpabilis sa daloy ng serbisyo at makatulong sa ating mga kababayan. Para naman sa amin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, basta kapakanan ng mga Pilipino, ipaglalaban namin ‘yan hanggang sa huli,” Go said.

Earlier, Go attended the opening of the first 18-kilometer section of the Central Luzon Link Expressway project with Duterte on July 15 in Tarlac City. The newly opened highway is intended to reduce the usual journey time between Cabanatuan City and Tarlac City from 70 minutes to just 20 minutes once it is fully operational. It will also be toll-free.

Go also attended the inauguration of the Cavite – Laguna Expressway Silang East Interchange section on August 24 and the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project in Taguig City on September 30.

As a vice presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, he vowed to ensure that the positive change initiated by President Duterte will be continued in order to provide a more comfortable life for all Filipinos.

“Ipagpapatuloy ko ang mga magagandang programa tulad ng libreng edukasyon, libreng pagpapagamot tulad ng serbisyo mula sa Malasakit Centers, Build Build Build Projects, at marami pang iba tungo sa ating hangarin na mabigyan ng mas maginhawa at komportableng buhay ang mga Pilipino,” Go said earlier.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ISRAEL: MISS UNIVERSE COMPETITION® WILL TAKE PLACE IN ISRAEL THIS DECEMBER

Israel Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov

“I fully hope that in December we will be celebrating not only the new Miss Universe here in Israel, but most importantly, the end of the world pandemic.”

The global MISS UNIVERSE® beauty pageant will be held for the first time in its history in Israel. The city of Eilat was chosen to be the host city of the competition, which will mark its 70th anniversary this year. 

Israeli producer Tali Eshkoli and Los Angeles-based producer Assaf Blecher are responsible for bringing the Miss Universe pageant to Israel, which will be run by the Miss Universe organization in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Eilat Municipality. From the end of November, competition contestants will arrive in Israel for three weeks of TV events, broadcast live around the world. These include the semi-final and final events, the national costume show, and other gala events such as the red-carpet event, events in the community, charity events and more. The 70th Miss Universe Competition will once again be hosted by legendary entertainer Steve Harvey. 

Delegations from about 100 countries are expected to attend the pageant in Israel, including more than 1,200 members of official delegations, hundreds of journalists and TV crews, thousands of pageant enthusiasts and tourists, more than 100 American celebrities, including top-tier artists and world-famous judges. Every year, the event is widely covered in the media and it will add Israel to the map of countries that have previously hosted the prestigious pageant. 

The choice of Israel as the host country once again underscores Israel’s attractiveness, its rich history and the wide variety of spectacular tourist and resort sites that Israel has to offer pageant viewers around the world. An international event of this scale will positively impact awareness and image of Eilat and Israel as a leading tourism destination and a world-renowned international brand.  

The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) is a global community that empowers women to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success. The organization’s programs provide the women who participate an international platform to affect positive change through influential humanitarian and professional efforts. The contestants and titleholders are leaders and role models in their communities, develop personal and professional goals, and inspire others to do the same.

Israel Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov:

“We in Israel are delighted to host the 70th anniversary celebrations of the iconic Miss Universe pageant. Israel is a beautiful land of creativity and innovation and we have successfully faced the COVID-19 crisis head on. Therefore, today we are among the first countries to host an international event – the unifying Miss Universe.

 

Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi:

“We are proud to host the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Miss Universe pageant in Eilat – a year-round sea and sun resort. We see this event as an opportunity to leverage Eilat and the Negev as an attractive tourism destination.

 

Tourism Director for India and the Philippines Sammy Yahia:

“What a great opportunity to host Ms. Universe this December in Israel. I know that some Filipinos were crowned with this prestigious competition. I wish all participants good health and good luck and I look forward in seeing you all soon”.

Tali Eshkoli, Miss Universe producer in Israel: “The State of Israel once again proves that it stands alongside leading countries in the world that are capable of hosting international events of such significant size. Without a doubt, we have a great and extraordinary opportunity to expose Israel to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, and I thank the Ministry of Tourism and the Eilat Municipality for their fruitful cooperation.”

 

Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization: “Israel has been on our shortlist of host countries for a number of years due to its rich history, beautiful landscapes, myriad of cultures and appeal as a global tourist destination,” said “As we sought an impressive location for our 70th anniversary celebration, it became clear through our conversations with acting mayor Lankri and the Israeli Ministry that Israel has the best resources to host MISS UNIVERSE in December.” 

 

The Philippines was already crowned four Filipina Miss Universe, Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in !973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018. 

Bong Go lauds PRRD for signing EO 140 to restore the country’s labor market amid the adverse economic impacts of the pandemic

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing Executive Order No. 140, which officially adopted the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) as the Philippine government’s master plan for the restoration of the country’s labor market.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo at kinokomendahan si Pangulong Duterte sa pagpirma niya ng EO 140 na layuning maglatag ng recovery strategy para sa labor market ng bansa na lubos na apektado ng kasalukuyang pandemya,” said Go.

“Layunin po nito na buuin ang NERS Task Force na siyang bubuo ng mga polisiya upang makapaglikha pa tayo ng mas maraming trabaho sa bansa at magkaroon ng access ang ating mga kababayan sa mga ito. Bubuo rin sila ng mga polisiya para sa livelihood trainings, pagpapalakas ng productivity ng ating mga manggagawa, pagsusulong ng kanilang karapatan, at marami pang iba,” he added.

On Monday, June 29, Duterte signed the EO. It institutionalizes the NERS Task Force, which consists of 20 agencies, and is directed to implement the NERS from 2021 to 2022 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s adverse effects.

Members are the Departments of Transportation, Tourism, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology, Environment and Natural Resources, Education, Finance, and Budget and Management, among other agencies.

The passage of laws to support economic and employment recovery, the implementation of youth employability initiatives, process upgrades, and loan assistance to businesses are among those on the recovery agenda. Also included are the promotion of retooling and upskilling of workers, social protection to vulnerable groups, deferment of fees, and continuous support and monitoring of programs with high impact on employment.

As the country jumpstarts the economy while government rolls out its vaccination program, Go continues to push for the passage of key legislative measures that can ease the burden of the pandemic on ordinary Filipinos and ensure continued public service delivery during these challenging times.

For one, Go supported the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE bill to help small businesses cope with the adverse impact of the crisis. According to Go, the tax reform measure also aims to achieve faster and equitable regional development and provide economic opportunities in the provinces by encouraging businesses to invest in the countryside.

Moreover, Go filed the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery or GUIDE bill.

“Ang mga ito ay naglalayong magkaroon ng dagdag na mekanismong pinansyal para matulungan ang mga negosyo na magkaroon ng puhunan,” Go explained.

“Kung matutulungan natin ang mga negosyo na bumangon at lumago, matutulungan rin ng pribadong sektor ang ating mga kababayan at magkakaroon rin ng mas maraming economic opportunities sa buong bansa,” he added.

The Public Services Bill and the Foreign Investment Bill are also being prioritized by the government and are currently undergoing plenary deliberations. Meanwhile, the Retail Trade Liberalization bill already passed the Senate’s third and final reading.

To ensure that government can better adapt to the new normal, Go is also pushing for a measure that will spur the shift of government processes and transactions towards e-governance. He filed in July last year Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1738, or the “E-Governance Act of 2020,” which mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and inter-operable information and resource-sharing and communications network.

Go said e-governance “will reduce red tape, eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, provide safe and convenient delivery of services to the people and encourage citizen feedback and participation.”

“Ginagawan na natin ng paraan na magiging mas malinis at madali ang pakikipag-transaksyon sa gobyerno. Kung kaya’t bukod sa maayos na pag-implementa ng Ease of Doing Business Act, isinusulong ko rin ang aking E-Governance Bill upang mas makapag-adapt ang bansa sa ‘new normal’,” said Go.

“Gamit ang makabagong teknolohiya, gagawin nating mas mabilis, maginhawa, at angkop sa pangkasalukuyang sitwasyon ang mga proseso ng gobyerno para mas makabenepisyo sa pangkaraniwang mga Pilipino,” he added.

Go is also the main proponent of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program. BP2 is a comprehensive, multi-sectoral and whole-of-government initiative which seeks to decongest Metro Manila and enhance regional development by incentivizing residents and businesses to settle and invest in areas outside Metropolitan areas.

It places emphasis on four key result areas, namely: (1) the empowerment of local industries; (2) food security and agricultural productivity; (3) housing, social welfare, health, employment and human resource development; and (4) infrastructure development. Beneficiaries who are returning to their provinces can expect to receive assistance on transportation, housing and livelihood, among others, subject to assessment.

BP2 roll-outs are presently temporarily suspended due to the pandemic and shall resume once conditions are deemed safe. However, preparations by local government units and partner agencies are underway.

“Magtulungan at magbayanihan po tayo para malampasan ang krisis na ito. Pasiglahin natin muli ang ating mga kabuhayan, at bigyan natin ng bagong pag-asa ang ating mga kababayan ng mas ligtas at komportableng buhay — anumang pagsubok ang dumating,” Go said.