By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate health an demography committee, today urged the public to report anomalies and corruption-related acts to authorities, especially if it is in connection with the purchase or selling of medical supplies and equipment even as the country tries to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COIVD-19).
“Hinihimok ko ang bawat Pilipino na magsumbong kung may nakikitang korapsyong ginagawa ang mga opisyal o pribadong kompanya,’’ Go said. (I am encouraging every Filipino to report any corruption committed by officials [of the government] or of a private company.)
Go issued this statement after conducting two committee hearings last May 26 and 28.
“In times of crisis, every peso counts. While government maximizes its limited resources, a lot of our fellow Filipinos have also lost jobs, livelihood and savings. We are fighting for survival — as survival is the name of the game here. We should not allow corruption and abusive business practices to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of fellow Filipinos,” he explained.
“Kung may alam po kayo na mga abusadong mga indibidwal sa gobyerno man o sa pribadong sektor, huwag po kayo matakot magsumbong sa amin ni Pangulo… Ako po mismo magbubulong ng inyong hinaing kay Pangulong Duterte at sisiguraduhin natin na mapoprotektahan po kayo basta magsabi lang kayo ng totoo,’’ he said. (If you know abusive individuals in government or in private sector, do not be afraid to report to us with the President…I will bring your concerns to President Duterte and we will ensure that that you’ll be protected as long as you are telling the truth.)
Go has constantly vowed to crack down on any alleged anomaly, especially when it comes to purchases, selling or distribution of medical equipment and supplies.
The senator from Davao also underscored the need for all government agencies involved in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic to account for every single peso spent from public funds.
“Handa tayong mag-conduct ng investigation (We are ready to conduct investigations) on all of these alleged overpriced medical supplies, equipment and packages, including the COVID-19 test kits,” Go said.
“Kung makikita nating may korapsyon na nangyari, dapat papanagutin natin ang mga ahensya at lalong lalo na ang mga opisyal nito. Wala tayong papalampasin, at wala tayong pipiliin. Pera ng bayan po ito. Gamitin natin sa tama at wasto lalo na’t nakakatakot ang kinakaharap natin,’’ he explained. (If we will see that there were corruptions committed, we will make the agencies especially its officials to answer for their acts.)
“Dapat malaman natin kung inabuso ba o sinamantala ang pagkakataon ng krisis na ito para kumita ang mga taong nasa likod ng korapsyong ito kung mayroon man,’’ he added. (We should determine if abuses were committed and if the crisis was used to amass public funds.)
As a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the implementation of the Bayanihan Heal as One Act, Go has repeatedly stated that with the funds released by the government to address the health crisis, “every centavo counts.”
He, however, underscored that he would also give government agencies and concerned individuals a chance to explain their side.
Go also appealed to private individuals not to take advantage of the situation Filipinos are currently facing.
He urged Filipinos to report any anomalous activity being committed by public officials, private individuals, or companies.
In a recent virtual meeting with the officials and key members of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) on Wednesday, Go also appealed for support and assistance from the business community and asked them to help the government by also cooperating in anti-corruption initiatives.
Go also assured the public that the government remains vigilant and careful in spending public funds appropriated to combat COVID-19.
“Indeed, we need to improve our capacity in addressing pandemics like this. We hope that the measures we have discussed will address some of our weaknesses and gaps in handling public health emergencies. Let the pandemic be a lesson to all of us and use this experience to improve our health system,” he said.