Press Release
October 25, 2019

Bong Go gives aid to fire victims in San Pedro, Laguna; continues push for creation of DOFW amid recent repatriation of Filipino migrant workers

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go commiserated with and aided victims of fire incidents in Brgy. San Antonio, San Pedro City, Laguna, and Quiricada St., Sta. Cruz, Manila today, October 24, where he distributed grocery packs and financial assistance to them.

In San Pedro City, where 164 houses were razed by the fire and 169 families were affected, Go said that aside from the food and financial aid he initially extended to the victims, he will also take care of the school supplies and uniforms of the affected children so that they can immediately resume school.

"Sino po rito ang mga estudyante? Ako na rin po ang magbibigay sa inyo ng uniporme at mga supplies," Go announced to the delight of the victims. He also told those who want to return to their provinces that he will help provide financial assistance for their transportation expenses.

"Sa mga nais umuwi ng probinsya, ako na mamamasahe sa inyo. Ang Maynila, sobrang sikip na... Sa probinsya, maluwag at presko ang hangin," Go said.

As for the families who lost their homes, Go told that he has already coordinated with the National Housing Authority (NHA) regarding the relocation sites for them. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will also provide livelihood assistance to eligible victims.

Go encouraged victims who were injured or those who need medical attention to avail the services of Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop hosting concerned government agencies that provide medical assistance to those in need.

"Sa mga nasaktan o may malalang karamdaman, pumunta lamang po kayo sa malapit na Malasakit Center sa inyo. Pera po ninyo iyon. Ibinabalik lamang po sa inyo," Go said.

The senator was accompanied by representatives from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), DTI, and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide additional assistance to the residents.

During an ambush interview, Go was asked how he feels about the "superhero" tag given to him due to his continuing visits to victims of disasters nationwide.

Go downplayed the compliment, saying "Do not consider me as a hero. Public servant nyo lang po ako. Ituring niyo lang ako na kaibigan. Serbisyo lang po ako. 24 hours a day po ang serbisyo ko."

As for the recent repatriation of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the Middle East who were victimized by illegal recruiters, Go said that it only intensified his desire to push for the creation of an executive department focused on addressing concerns of migrant workers.

"Ingat po sa mga illegal recruiters. Huwag kaagad sumakay sa mga offers na alanganin. That's why I'm pushing for the Department of OFWs (DOFW), not only para sa documented na Pilipino na nasa abroad pero para sa mga undocumented. Kawawa sila. Hindi sila makauwi. Kung merong departamento na tututok sa ganito, ito na po ang lalapitan nila," Go said.

He added, "Nag-TWG (technical working group) na po tayo. Tinatapos na natin ito. Sana maipasa bago matapos ang taon. Para hindi na sila papapasa-pasa sa Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) o embahada."

One of Go's first legislative measures filed in the 18th Congress is Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019. Senate Bill 202 seeks to address concerns of overseas Filipinos, such as the need to improve coordination among concerned offices in responding to the needs, particularly of OFWs.

The bill proposes that the following agencies and their powers and functions, funds and appropriations, records, equipment, property, and personnel will be transferred to the new department to be established: OWWA, POEA, Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), International Labor Affairs Bureau of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).

The bill also states that the powers and functions of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs under the Department of Foreign Affairs and all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and their officials under DOLE will also be transferred to the new department.

"Itong Department of OFWs, primarily para sa mga OFWs talaga natin. Kasi alam niyo po, minsan kung saan-saan sila humihingi ng tulong at ng advice. Hindi nila alam kung saan sila pupunta," Go said in past interviews.

Meanwhile, asked on the status of the health of President Rodrigo Duterte who recently cut his Japan visit short due to complaints of back pain, Go said that there is nothing to worry about.

"Mabuti ang kalusugan ng Pangulo. Nothing to worry. Severe lumbar muscle spasm lamang ang kanyang naranasan. Importante walang bali o fracture o anumang naipit na ugat sa kanyang spine na una nating ikinabahala," Go said, adding that the President was advised to rest in the coming days.

However, Go said that the President will still fulfill his diplomatic duties as head of state as he will receive Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua in Malacañang later today.

"He was advised to rest in the coming days. 74 na po ang Pangulo. Kailangan din niyang magpahinga. Sa kabila nito, magtatrabaho pa rin po siya. Tatanggapin niya ang Vice Premier ng bansang Tsina mamaya sa Malacañang," Go said.

As for the turnover of command of the Philippine National Police (PNP) after the top post was vacated by former chief Oscar Albayalde, Go said that the President has yet to make a decision.

"Sa ngayon, wala pang napipili ang Pangulo. Hintayin lang po natin. Pinag-iisipan po niya ng malalim kung sino ang may will to continue the war on drugs."

On the issue of prison congestion in the national penitentiary, Go urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fast-track the release of eligible inmates, especially aging prisoners.

"Nangako ang DOJ na binibilisan na nila kung sino qualified lalo na ang mga matatanda na para makapiling nila ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Kung due na for release, release na po," urged Go stressing that proper procedures must be followed in the release of qualified inmates.

In a light moment during the interview, Go expressed his appreciation for his son, Christian Lawrence Go, who recently placed third in the October 2019 Certified Public Accountant Licensure Exam.

"Ako po, I'm proud of my son," Go said, adding that he will discourage his son from getting into politics.

"Masyadong mahiyain ang aking anak. Wala pong plano 'yun. Ayoko din siyang pumasok sa pulitika. Masyadong mahirap. Madumi ang pulitika. Ako po bilang public servant, serbisyo lang po ako sa tao," he said.

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