By Mario B. Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated on Tuesday his appeal to the private sector, industry players, business leaders, foundations, and others to join hands and combine their efforts to help the Filipino people overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, emphasized that a whole-of-society approach is needed to contain the deadly virus.
He also thanked those who have already expressed their willingness to bolster government efforts through various forms of donations.
‘’There are already those who expressed their intentions to help, such as the alcoholic drinks manufacturers who have earlier donated denatured alcohol for the use of hospitals, oil companies who will set aside one to two pesos per liter from their sales, and the casinos that will form their respective foundations to generate funds for our countrymen,” Go said.
‘’Wholeheartedly, I am thankful to all of you. I am also calling on those who wish to also extend help to our people,” he said.
Encouraging optimism amid the ongoing public health crisis, Go called for unity and ‘’bayanihan’’ (collective cooperation) in fighting the spread of the virus.
‘’We have faced many disasters and tragedies in the past, but because of our unity and readiness to help each other, we have survived all of these,” Go said.
The night before President Duterte ordered the enhanced community quarantine for the whole of Luzon, Go already urged business leaders to help workers and small-time traders by recommending the following measures that the private sector may consider:
– Release of 13th month pay;
– Moratorium on rental fees for lessors and tenants;
– One month’s reprieve on bills payment for basic utility providers;
– Aid to small- and medium-scale enterprises from big businesses
– Impose work from home arrangement/flexible work schedule;
– Limit travel for workers.
President Duterte makes appeal
The President, in his speech at Malacañang last Monday, emphasized Go’s appeal to the private sector.
“‘Yun sanang malalaking enterprises dito (The big enterprises here), maybe you can consider paying the 13th month pay or just paying them maski kalahati sa sweldo nila (…even half of their salaries) as a way of showing your solidarity with the Filipino at this critical time,” Duterte said.
The President also asked that renters and tenants be given some leeway in the payment of rent and for service providers to provide a one-month extension for the payment of bills.
“Gawan natin ng paraan na mabawasan ng gastusin ang ating mga kababayan (Let’s find ways to reduce the expenses of our countrymen),” Duterte said.
“I urge our business leaders to find ways to help small businesses and ease the burden which is felt by the ordinary citizens.”
Assuring the public that there will be no hunger during the quarantine period, Duterte also guaranteed that there is a sufficient supply of food in the country.
President Duterte asked Go to read the message from San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang that his company would help would ensure a sufficient supply of food and basic necessities while the government addresses the COVID-19 situation.
During the inter-agency task force meeting and after the message was read, Duterte expressed his gratitude for the support given by Ang as well as other private companies and business leaders who have signified their intention to help.