Bong Go co-sponsors OTOP Philippines program

Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go

Amid the adverse impact of the pandemic on the economy, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go stressed the importance of supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country as he authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1594, which aims to institutionalize the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Program.

The proposed measure adopts the OTOP Program as a government stimulus program to encourage the growth of MSMEs in the country through the utilization of indigenous raw materials, local traditions, and cultures across the country.

In an ambush interview after aiding residents in San Jose, Tarlac on Thursday, 9 March, Go stressed the importance of supporting MSMEs, to help them thrive and contribute to the growth of the economy.

“Backbone ng ating ekonomiya ay ang MSMEs. Ito po ‘yung mga dapat nating bigyan ng importansya, pagtuunan natin (ng pansin), tulungan natin na lumago,” said Go.

He emphasized that, as of 2020, MSMEs are major employers, accounting for 99.5% of total business enterprises in the country and over 62% of the country’s total employment, according to a report from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Therefore, supporting these businesses is not only beneficial to the entrepreneurs but also for their employees and the communities where they operate.

The senator likewise acknowledged the challenges that MSMEs are currently facing due to the pandemic, saying, “Bigyan natin sila ng bagong pag-asa. Palakasin (natin) ang kanilang kabuhayan para makaahon po tayo sa krisis dulot ng COVID-19. Para sa akin po, pinakamahalaga ang ordinaryong Pilipino.”

According to Go, the OTOP Program is also a massive help to Filipinos who want to start or grow their business, ensuring that they have a stable source of income, which is vital for them to sustain their basic needs.

“Napakalaking tulong po nito sa mga kababayan natin na tulungan po natin silang magnegosyo, palaguin ang kanilang negosyo,” said Go.

“Mahalaga na meron silang hanapbuhay, nabibili ang basic needs, at hindi nagugutom dahil walang laman ang tiyan, ang sikmura ng mga kababayan nating mahihirap. Dapat po sila ang tulungan nating lumago, lumaki, tulungang magnegosyo at lumago ang kanilang negosyo,” he ended.

The OTOP Program seeks to assist and capacitate MSMEs in developing new, innovative, and more complex products and services through significant improvement in the areas of quality, product development, design, packaging, standards compliance, marketability, production capability, brand development, sustainability, and securing licenses, product registration and other market authorization, among others.

In his co-sponsorship speech, Go believes that the institutionalization of the OTOP Program can help MSMEs in the countryside recover and flourish amid the pandemic.

“While we are recovering from the pandemic, naniniwala po ako na sa pamamagitan ng panukalang ito ay matutulungan natin ang mga MSMEs na buhayin at muling pagyabungin ang kanilang mga negosyo,” said Go.

“Let us assist them to fully recover. Bigyan natin ng bagong pag-asa ang mga nasa probinsya at palakasin ang kanilang kabuhayan para makaahon sa krisis,” he added.

Congratulating fellow senator Mark Villar for prioritizing the bill, Go hopes to contribute to a better and more resilient Philippine economy, especially for those in the provinces, through the measure, saying, “With this bill, we continue to strive for a better and resilient economy. It is for these reasons that I am reiterating my full support for the passage of this important measure.”

Aside from the measure, Go also filed SBN 1182, or the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act, to support the economic sector.

The measure aims to strengthen the capacity of government financial institutions to provide the needed financial assistance to MSMEs, and other strategically important companies.

Go has been consistent in advocating for sustained government support for MSMEs. At the height of the pandemic, the lawmaker successfully advocated for the implementation of the Small Business Wage Subsidy program.

It provided eligible workers who were unable to work or get paid during the enhanced community quarantine period with two tranches of financial assistance.

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