Bong Go calls for solidarity and whole-of-country approach to overcome COVID-19 crisis; seeks to address concerns raised by PH professionals
During his virtual attendance at the Induction and Turnover Ceremonies of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go called for solidarity among various organizations in the Philippines as the country steps up to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In these times of uncertainty, Go mentioned that everyone can contribute to making things better for the country. “Bagama’t magkakaiba tayo ng trabaho – kayong mga accountants, at kaming mga mambabatas – lahat po tayo ay public servants na may kakayahan na makatulong sa bayan upang malampasan ang krisis na ito.”
In his speech during the virtual event hosted on Zoom, Go said that the nation needs the solidarity of organizations, like PICPA, now more than ever, emphasizing the need for a whole-of-nation approach in the fight against the pandemic.
“Ngayon na may hinaharap tayong krisis, importante po na magbayanihan ang iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan para maiahon ang ating bansa, as we prepare for the ‘new normal’ and provide our fellow Filipinos hope for a better future,” he added.
During his speech, Go also took the opportunity to assure public accountants and other professionals that he will continue to push for their welfare and protection especially in these trying times. He said that his office is always open for proposals and suggestions that could improve the lives of fellow Filipinos.
As an example, Go said that he is currently studying possible amendments to the current Continuing Professional Development Law. He encouraged organizations, like PICPA, to provide suggestions regarding this matter and work together in uplifting the lives of professionals as well as unburden their hardships especially in this time of crisis.
“I am always willing to listen to you and make sure that your concerns will be heard and addressed,” he said, explaining that the current CPD law may have unduly burdened professionals in the country, including public accountants, as it requires credit units to be taken as a pre-requisite in the renewal of their professional license.
“Isipin ninyo, nag-aral na kayo ng ilang taon, pumasa na kayo sa board exams, patuloy kayong nagtatrabaho, tapos kailangan ninyo pang gumastos muli para lang maipagpatuloy ang inyong propesyon,” Go said.
“Nais po nating mapagaan ang pasakit sa ating mga professionals lalo na sa panahon ng krisis. Layunin natin na maiangat pa rin ang antas ng inyong professional service – minus the added cost and burden caused by the implementation of the CPD law,” he added.
Go also discussed some of his people-centered and service-oriented legislative measures to address the immediate needs of Filipinos who need government attention the most. These include his proposed Senate Bill No. 202, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act, which seeks to create a department solely mandated to handle all OFW-related concerns and streamline government efforts.
“Kung may iisang departamentong tutugon sa kanilang mga pangangailangan, mas bibilis at mas magiging maayos ang serbisyong makukuha nila sa gobyerno,” explained Go.
Go also mentioned priority bills he authored that were already enacted into law such as the Malasakit Centers Act, the National Academy of Sports Act and the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 which provided a salary increase to civilian employees employed in the government, including public accountants.
Meanwhile, Go assured Filipinos that the government is already carving a path towards post-COVID-19 recovery. He, then, shared his efforts and initiatives to assist the government in combatting the pandemic.
“During the past few months, I have appealed to the executive department for the implementation of programs and provision of assistance in response to the needs of various sectors of society amid this pandemic,” Go shared.
Among the requests related to the accounting profession which Go sought from the government to assist Filipinos during the pandemic include appealing to the Department of Finance and, specifically, to the Bureau of Internal Revenue to extend the deadline for the filing of Annual Income Tax Returns. He also called for consideration and extensions of other deadlines and financial obligations in order to ease the burden of affected Filipinos.
“Sa panahong katulad nito, dapat lang po na bigyan natin ng palugit ang ating mga kababayan. Marami ang halos walang kabuhayan, hindi alam paano papakainin ang pamilya, at hindi alam hanggang kailan magtatagal ang krisis,” he said.
Go also shared that the Congress is currently studying another important measure, the proposed Bayanihan 2 bill, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which can further strengthen the government’s efforts to overcome the crisis while addressing the growing needs of the people and the economy.
In his speech, Go identified some of his other filed bills aimed at boosting the public health system and ensuring that the Philippines is better prepared for future pandemics.
Among these measures include SB 1226, or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, which aims to streamline the process of upgrading public hospitals; SB 1259 or the “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020” which aims to establish quarantine facilities in every region in the country; and SB 1528 or An Act Amending RA 11332, known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act”, which seeks to enhance disease surveillance and control, such as having better capabilities in conducting more testing and intensive contact-tracing in times of pandemics.
Meanwhile, Go expressed his gratitude to the executive department for responding to his recommendation and by issuing Executive Order 114, institutionalizing the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program as a pillar of balanced regional development.
“As stated by President Duterte, starting fresh in the provinces would give Filipinos hope for a better future after the COVID-19 crisis. Through Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program, we hope to achieve equitable development in all regions, not just in Metropolitan areas,” he said.
Go reiterated his commitment that he will not limit himself to being just a legislator and he will continue to help the Duterte Administration achieve its goal of providing a comfortable life for all Filipinos.
“Makaaasa po kayo na narito ang gobyerno para sa inyo na handang magserbisyo at palaging uunahin ang kapakanan at interes ng bawat Pilipino. Kaya ang panawagan ko: Magkaisa at magbayanihan tayo. If we work as one, we will heal as one; and we will emerge out of this crisis as a stronger and more prosperous nation,” he ended.