During his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26, President Duterte cited some of the measures filed by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go as key legislations that must be prioritized during the last year of his six-year term.
Expressing his gratitude to Duterte for citing these measures, Go said that their same goal is to offer a comfortable life for all Filipinos and lead the country towards overcoming the ongoing global health crisis.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Pangulo for highlighting some of my priority bills during his final SONA (I am grateful to the President for highlighting some of my priority bills during his final SONA). Patunay lamang po na napakalahalagang maipasa ang mga batas na ito dahil iisa lang naman ang hangad namin ni Pangulo at iyan ay ang magbigay ng mas komportableng buhay para sa lahat ng mga Pilipino (This proves that it is important to pass these measures because President Duterte and me share a common objective and that is to provide more comfortable lives for all the Filipinos),’’ he said.
“Kaya naman hinihikayat ko rin ang aking mga kapwa mambabatas na suportahan at tulungan tayong maipasa na ang mga panukalang batas na ito para sa ikabubuti ng ating bansa (This is why I am encouraging my fellow lawmakers to support and help us pass these proposed legislations for the betterment of our country),” he added.
Among the bills filed by Go mentioned by Duterte during his SONA are Senate Bill (SB) 1419, or the Unified System for Separation, Retirement, and Pension of the Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP); SB 393 which seeks to provide free legal assistance to Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel; SB 1738, or the “E-Governance Bill”; SB 2158, which seeks to establish a Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the Philippine CDC; and SB 2155, or the “Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Bill”.
Duterte also mentioned SB 1832, which provides for a Fire Protection Modernization Program in the country; SB 1228 also known as the “Mandatory Evacuation Center Bill”; SB 205 which establishes the Department of Disaster Resilience; and SB 2234 that will establish the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos (DMWOF).
Go’s version of the proposed pension reform law for military and other uniformed personnel, as indicated in SB 1419 which he filed in 2020, seeks to attain fiscal stability and sustainability of their pension system without prejudice to current pensioners and those in active service which President Duterte also emphasized in his SONA speech.
“Nais ko klaruhin — suportado ko ang pension reform para maiwasan na maging isang financial disaster ito in the long-run (I want to make it clear— I am supporting the pension reform in order to avoid it of becoming a financial disaster in the long run). Pero ayoko na bawasan o maapektuhan ang kasalukuyang pension ng mga nag-retiro na o ‘yung inaasahang pension ng mga naka active duty pa (But, I do not want it deducted or the present pension of the retirees be affected or even of those who are about to retire or still in active duty),” Go emphasized.
Meanwhile, SB 393 intends to give free legal help to any AFP or PNP officer or enlisted personnel who is facing charges stemming from any incident relating to the performance of official duties before the prosecutor’s office, court, administrative, or any competent authority.
SB 1738, or the E-Governance Bill, mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and inter-operable information and resource-sharing and communications network.
This is to reduce red tape, eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, provide safe and convenient delivery of services to the people and encourage citizen feedback and participation.
Meanwhile, due to the institutional weaknesses of the country in terms of pandemic preparedness and management as exposed by COVID-19, Go also filed SBN 2158 which seeks to establish a Center for Disease Control and Prevention that will assume the responsibility of protecting the lives of millions of Filipinos by monitoring, tracking, responding to, and mitigating outbreaks of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies.
He also filed SB 2155, or the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Bill which aims to capacitate the country when it comes to health related research initiatives.
This also aims to make the country more self-reliant when it comes to developing, producing or manufacturing its own vaccines and other needed drugs in the future.
Moreover, SB 1832 mandates the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to develop and implement a fire protection modernization program. This will include the acquisition of modern fire equipment, an expansion of the BFP’s manpower, and the provision of specialized training for firefighters, among others.
The BFP shall also be mandated to conduct monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives in every local government unit.
Go emphasized that this is important in raising fire prevention awareness in informal settlements, economically depressed areas, and far-flung communities.
SB 1228 seeks to require the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, province and municipality throughout the country which shall provide basic needs and assistance to all evacuees.
The said bill is complemented by SB 205 which establishes the DDR. It seeks to unify the government’s supervision of emergency response and to ensure that communities are disaster-resilient.
A disaster resilience fund will also finance DDR’s operations that will include disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response, recovery, rehabilitation and building better programs, projects and activities formulated in the national level.
Finally, SB 2234 establishes the DMWOF which will be primarily responsible for protecting the rights and promoting the welfare and interests of migrant workers and other Filipinos overseas.
Go said that he acknowledged Duterte’s sincerity during his final SONA, in which the latter admitted that there is still work to be done until the end of his presidency.
Despite all the achievements of the administration, which include the passage of landmark measures, such as the Universal Healthcare Law, Salary Standardization Law 5, and the Malasakit Centers Act, Go said that the President would not “rest on his laurels” as he knows he can do more for the country.
“That’s why he was calling for unity in his speech,” Go remarked.