Bong Go: The rise of the ‘probinsyano’

Published September 24, 2021, 12:02 AM

by Anna Mae Lamentillo

NIGHT OWL

Anna Mae Lamentillo

He was initially identified as President Rodrigo Duterte’s most trusted man, having served as the former Davao City Mayor’s loyal and trustworthy aide for two decades. He was also referred to as the “People’s bridge to the President,” ensuring that the people’s needs and concerns reach the Chief Executive’s attention. But over the years, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has solidified his brand of service — one who is always ready, willing, and wholeheartedly serves the people.

In fact, President Duterte describes Senator Bong Go as the embodiment of a dedicated public servant who works tirelessly to make sure services reach those who need them the most.

As then Mayor Duterte’s aide, he was tasked to attend to the needs of people who were seeking help from Davao’s top leader. His role endeared him to the public, and it helped that he is also very approachable and sincere in his duty.

When he became Special Assistant to the President (SAP), and now senator, he remained the same, the simple “probinsyano” who is always willing to go the extra mile just to help, especially those who have less in life and vulnerable.

As SAP, he prioritized the creation of Malasakit Centers all over the country to improve access to affordable and quality health services to the poor and marginalized. The Malasakit Center aims to: (1) help reduce a patient’s hospital bill to the lowest possible amount by covering various patient services and expenses, such as surgeries, laboratories and medicines, through existing medical assistance programs under government agencies, such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), PhilHealth, and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO); and (2) bring together these aforementioned government agencies in one roof to hasten the delivery of the government’s medical assistance programs for poor and disadvantaged Filipino patients.

Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go

The idea is simple — give help to those in need in the most efficient and convenient way. For Senator Go, we should not let those who are already suffering suffer further.

As senator, he institutionalized the creation of these Malasakit Centers through Republic Act 11463, which he principally authored and sponsored in the Senate. As of Sept. 3, 2021, there are already 138 Malasakit Centers nationwide.

SENATOR BONG Go (2nd from right) at the inaugural ceremony of CALAX Silang East Interchange led by DPWH Sec. Mark Villar (center).

Senator Go has also filed many other proposed measures, particularly on health, salary increase for government employees, anti-illegal drugs and criminality, housing, education, immigration, long-term sports development, anti-corruption drive,  fire protection and prevention, barangay welfare, labor, justice, migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, solo parents, disaster resilience and e-governance, among other measures, that aim to improve Filipinos’ quality of life.  These measures aim to complement the programs of the Duterte administration.

As a public servant and aware of the needs of our people having worked beside President Duterte for more than two decades, he also advocated for and supported measures on greater food security, localized peace talks, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, LGBTs, MSMEs and other local industries, and transport.

Asked what inspires him to work, Senator Go says, it is serving his fellow Filipinos. He shares that his decades of work with President Duterte provided him a deeper understanding of what ails the country and what needs to be done. He considers the President his mentor who taught him that public service is always prioritizing serving Filipinos and it should be done with “tapang at malasakit” — the Duterte brand of leadership.

Public service has long been ingrained in the mind and heart of Senator Go that when he wakes up, he always thinks of Filipinos who are suffering, those who are vulnerable, those whose lives revolve around the basic things in life — to be able to eat three times a day, to have roof over their heads, to be able to send their children to school, and to be able to go to work and do their livelihoods safely.

“These are the people who need government services the most.  As a servant of the people, it is my duty to ensure that these people are able to access quality services in a more convenient and timely manner,” says the Senator.

 
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