Senator Christopher “Bong” Go (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go has appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, and other concerned national government agencies to provide additional assistance to poor Filipinos through an expanded Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

This, after the reimposition of tougher quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

"Let us work together to find the funds needed to further help our people, especially those whose lives and livelihoods are adversely affected by tighter restrictions which we imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19," he appealed.

Go emphasized that concerned agencies must already provide the baseline data to determine the needed resources for government to be able to provide more aid to struggling Filipinos.

"I am also urging the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to determine how many of our kababayans (countrymen) nationwide should receive additional social amelioration, so we can have a clearer picture of how much resources are needed to implement this program," he said.

Go asked concerned government agencies to help all poor Filipinos overcome the difficulties caused by the rising number of COVID-19 cases and ensure that all sectors needing government assistance are prioritized.

"Hanapan natin ng paraan na mabigyan ng dagdag na ayuda ang lahat ng ating mga kababayang nangangailangan. Marami pong naghihirap ngayon. Karamihan ay nawalan ng trabaho o hirap ang kabuhayan at may mga pamilyang binubuhay kaya gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para pagaanin ang pasakit na dinadala nila (Let’s find ways to provide additional assistance for our countrymen who are in need. Many poor are in need. Many lost their jobs and they have family to feed so let’s do our best to lessen their burden)," he said.

Go emphasized that government must work together to fill in the gaps as the needs of Filipino families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic continue to grow and evolve.

"Isama po natin lahat ng mga mahihirap. Wala po tayong dapat na-miss out dahil hirap talaga mga kababayan natin. Huwag po nating limitahan dun sa 18 million low-income families na una nang na-identify ng DSWD. Ikonsidera rin natin 'yung iba pang naghihirap para walang maiwanan (Let’s include all the poor Filipinos. There should not be missed out because they are really struggling. We should not limit to 18 million low-income families earlier identified by DSWD. Consider others who are suffering so that no one will be left out)," he said.

To stop the spike in new Covid-19 cases, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued Resolution No. 104 which bans non-essential travel going to and outside the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal from March 22 to April 4.

He said government officials should have learned from the country’s past experience when the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed last year.

“Ngayon na mayroon ulit na mga mahigpit na patakaran, gawan natin ng paraang hindi masyado mahirap para sa ating mga kababayan (Now we have another stricter measures, let’s do everything so that it will not affect our countrymen)," Go said.

Go said he is hoping assistance will be extended to residents not only in the NCR plus bubble but other parts of the country.

He called on concerned national government agencies and local government units to work together to prevent issues on conflicting lists of beneficiaries and improve the distribution system for the government's various assistance programs.

"Naranasan na po natin ito noong nakaraang taon. Ayusin na natin agad kapag may mga nakikitang problema sa listahan ng mga benepisyaryo. Siguraduhin natin na magamit ang pondo nang tama, walang masayang, at maramdaman ng mga tao kahit sa malalayong lugar ang tulong mula sa gobyerno (We did this last year. Let’s fix it immediately if there is a problem with the list of beneficiaries. Make sure the funds will be properly disbursed, no wastage, and make people feel the help of government even in far-flung areas)," Go said.

He also asked the public to continue to cooperate with authorities, remain vigilant, and strictly follow health protocols to prevent the further spread of the virus.

"Pinaalalahanan ko ang publiko na ang pagsuot ng mask at face shield ay pangunahing paraan upang proteksyunan ang sarili at bilang pagrespeto o pagbibigay konsiderasyon din sa kapwa tao (I remind the public that wearing a face mask and face shield is our main protection and respect to others)," Go said. (PR)