Bong Go’s legislative work so far: people-centered, service-oriented measures to make government more accessible to Filipinos in need
In his first year in office, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has championed a people-centered and service-oriented legislative agenda in support of the Duterte Administration. He has vowed to dedicate his current term as a senator addressing the immediate, practical needs of Filipinos, wherever they may be.
“Sa patuloy na paglilibot ko kahit saan mang lugar at sa pakikihalubilo ko sa mga ordinaryong tao, naging malinaw sa akin kung ano ang tunay na mga hinaing nila.
“Ang mga isinumite kong panukala ay naglalayon na matugunan ang mga pang araw araw na pangangailangan ng mga Pilipino at maibigay ang serbisyong dapat nila matanggap mula sa gobyernong nagmamalasakit sa kanilang kalagayan,” Go explained.
“Patuloy po akong magsisilbing tulay nila sa Pangulo at sa gobyernong ito para mabigyan sila ng boses at mabigyang kasagutan ang kanilang mga hinaing,” he added.
As of June 30, ten out of sixteen laws signed by President Rodrigo Duterte so far for the current 18th Congress were co-authored or co-sponsored by Go, making him one of the most productive members of the Senate. Several more bills he authored and sponsored are also now making progress in the legislative process.
As an advocate for quality and accessible healthcare access to all Filipinos, among the first bills Go filed and signed into law during the current 18th Congress is Republic Act No. 11463, or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last December 3, 2019. Considered as Go’s foremost priority bill, it provides that Malasakit Centers be established in all Department of Health-hospitals and the Philippine General Hospital to give convenient access to quality and affordable healthcare to all Filipinos. There are now 71 Malasakit Centers nationwide.
Serving as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go has also sponsored the passage of several local hospital bills. Among these initiatives and recently signed into law are those increasing the bed capacity of and upgrading the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City into a Tertiary Level Hospital; upgrading the Maria L. Eleazar District Hospital in Tagkawayan, Quezon province into a Level III General Hospital; renaming Talisay District Hospital in Talisay City, Cebu into Cebu South Medical Center; and increasing the bed capacity of Bicol Medical Center and upgrading its services. Seven other local hospital bills being sponsored by Go are pending approval on third reading.
Go has also filed several bills which seek to address other issues in the public health care system. Among them is Senate Bill 1528 which intends to amend the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. The bill aims to enhance the country’s health care system in terms of disease surveillance and control, such as having better capabilities in conducting more testing and intensive contact tracing in times of pandemics.
Go also filed SB 1259 or the “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020” mandating the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region in the country, while SB 399 calls for the establishment of a drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center in every province in the country. He also filed SB 1228 which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, province and municipality throughout the country.
Other health-related bills authored by Go include SB 395, also known as the “Advanced Nursing Education Act of 2019”, which seeks to improve the nursing education and profession.
SB 398, meanwhile, provides for the expansion of the coverage of the existing mandatory basic immunization program of the government under RA No. 10152.
To ensure that each barangay will have enough Barangay Health Workers serving the community and with better compensation and benefits, Go filed SB 392, or the Barangay Health Workers Act of 2019.
The Senator also filed SB 394 or the Emergency Medical Services Systems Council Act, which mandates all local government units to establish an emergency medical service system for their area of jurisdiction.
In July of last year, Go also filed SB 202, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019, which seeks to address concerns of overseas Filipinos, such as the need to improve coordination among concerned offices in responding to their needs by putting them under one department.
Go’s SB 206, which aims to amend the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, is also currently awaiting period of interpellation. The bill aims to provide additional benefits and privileges to some fourteen million solo parents in the country, helping them ease the burden of single-handedly raising their children.
Go also filed Senate Bill 200 which served as one of the bases for RA No. 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 that seeks to give a salary increase to civilian employees in four tranches. President Duterte signed the law on January 9, 2020. Another Go’s bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to December 2022 was also signed into law a month before.
In a Senate Education Committee hearing last week, Go’s SB 396 was tackled. The measure intends to expand the application of the Special Education Fund, giving local government units the flexibility to boost their support to local public schools and help facilitate the transition to “blended learning” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Signed by President Duterte on March 24, 2020, Go also championed in the Senate Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which aims to address the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 in the country. Go pushed for the passage of the measure in the Senate that allows the Executive department to respond to COVID-19 with greater haste, flexibility and effectiveness.
Go also filed SB 397 calling for the establishment of a high school for sports which served as one of the bases of the newly enacted RA 11470 on June 9, 2020 which seeks to establish the National Academy of Sports.
The Senator has also filed seven resolutions adopted by the Senate, one of which urging the executive branch to implement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program to decongest Metro Manila and accelerate economic development in the countryside. As a result, Duterte issued EO 114 which institutionalized the program and created the BP2 Council to ensure a whole-of-government action in its implementation.
Go’s efforts as a neophyte senator were praised by his fellow lawmakers. During his year-end accomplishment report at the Senate regular session on December 18, Senate President Vicente Sotto III cited and lauded some of the bills authored and backed by Go as some of the achievements of the 18th Congress.