Senator Christopher “Bong” Go conducted a relief operation in Tabogon and Medellin, Cebu from 24 to 25 September as part of his commitment to support the government’s COVID-19 response.
The residents described the serious impact the crisis has had on their lives by making it more difficult to find a job or earn a livelihood.
Nevertheless, they expressed optimism that the opportunities would return once the crisis has passed.
“Napakalaki ng naging epekto ng pandemya sa amin. Halos bawat pamilya dito ay nawalan ng trabaho. Minsan umaabot ng tatlong trabaho at hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa din ito bumabalik. Dahil malapit kami sa dagat, maswerte ang aking pamilya at nakakahanap kami kahit papaano ng makain at maibenta,” shared Emma Tampus, 51, a seaweed farmer.
“Bilang hardinero, mahirap kasi hindi ka makalabas ng bahay basta-basta. Dahil senior citizen ako, hindi ako makapagtrabaho kaya nagtanim nalang ako ng gulay para ilako sa mga kapitbahay. Pakiusap ko, sana matulungan ang mga trabahador na gaya ko dito sa Medellin na walang pinagkakakitaan ngayon,” added Benjamin Ipi, 62.
Go’s team distributed meals, vitamins, masks, and face shields to a total of 4,916 solo parents and persons with disabilities at the Tabogon municipal gym and 314 micro-entrepreneurs at the Barangay Poblacion covered court in Medellin.
“Hindi po kayo pababayaan ng gobyernong palaging nagmamalasakit sa inyo. Ipaglalaban namin palagi ang kapakanan ng mga mahihirap lalo na yung mga wala nang matakbuhan. Magtulungan po tayo para masigurong walang maiiwan sa muling pagbangon ng ating bansa,” Go reiterated.
Selected beneficiaries received new pairs of shoes while some were given bicycles for their daily commute. Others were provided computer tablets so their children can study at home under the blended learning approach.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development provided qualified beneficiaries with financial or livelihood assistance under its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program and Sustainable Livelihood Program, respectively.
On the other hand, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority committed to extend further aid upon completing their assessments to further alleviate their financial distress from the pandemic.
“Maraming salamat po sa mga programa ng gobyerno. Bibigyan po kayo ng puhunan, tuturuan po kayong magnegosyo, at tutulungan kayong palaguin ito. Palaguin niyo po ang inyong negosyo at dalhin niyo po ang inyong kita sa inyong pamilya,” Go said.
“Alam niyo, mas masarap ang pakiramdam kapag pinagpawisan at pinaghirapan niyo po ang inyong pagnenegosyo. Siguraduhin niyo lang po na gamitin niyo ang pera sa tama,” he added.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go also offered to assist beneficiaries in need of medical care. He informed them that they may avail of medical assistance from the Malasakit Centers at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and St. Anthony Mother & Child Hospital both in Cebu City, Talisay City District Hospital, Lapu-Lapu City District Hospital, Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital in Mandaue City or Cebu Provincial Hospital in Carcar City.
First launched in Cebu City in 2018, the centers serve as a one-stop shop for the medical assistance programs offered by the government, specifically the DSWD, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The assistance covers laboratories, medicines, surgeries and other patient services and expenses.
“Kung may nararamdaman kayong sakit sa puso o ano man, ‘wag niyo na patagalin pa. Kadalasan ayaw ng mga Pilipino magpa-check-up dahil baka malaki ang gastusin sa ospital. Alam ko kung gaano ka hirap maging mahirap pero hindi niyo na kailangang magmakaawa para makahingi ng tulong sa gobyerno,” Go said in a video message.
“At kung may pasyente na hindi kayang operahan diyan ay tutulungan namin kayo makapunta sa Maynila. Kami na ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang sasalo sa pampa-ospital ninyo pati pamasahe hanggang makauwi kayo,” he reassured.
Go recognized various officials for their support for the administration’s efforts to uplift the lives of Filipinos. Among these were 4th District Representative Janice Salimbangon, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Tabogon Mayor Zigfred Duterte and Vice Mayor Leonardo Arpon, and Medellin Mayor Joven Mondigo Jr. and Vice Mayor Juan Lim.
“Mga kaigsuonan na ko, magtinabangay lang ta. Kinahanglan nato ang kooperasyon sa matag usa. Sa mga gisunugan, ayaw mo kabalaka. Magtinabangay lang ta,” ended Go.
(“Mga kapatid ko, magtulungan lang tayo. Kailangan natin ang kooperasyon ng bawat isa. Sa mga nasunugan, huwag kayong mag-alala. Magtulungan lang tayo.”)
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go supported numerous infrastructure initiatives in Cebu. These include road improvements in Alcantara, Alcoy, Alegria, Asturias, Balamban, Boljoon, Borbon, Carmen, Madrilejos, Malabuyoc, Minglanilla, Moalboal, Pinamungahan, Sibonga, Sogod, Tabogon, Tabuelan, Carcar City and Naga City; construction of multi-purpose buildings in Barili, Cordova, Ginatilan, Pilar, Tabogon, Cebu City and Talisay City; improvement of flood mitigation structures in Catmon and Tuburan; installation of street lights in Asturias, Compostela, and Daanbantayan; and acquisition of ambulance unit for Madrilejos and Naga City.
On 23 September, Go’s team also provided emergency assistance to 82 families who were affected by a fire in Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Cebu City. All activities were carried out in batches and strict compliance with the health and safety protocols against COVID-19.