Go renews push for OFW department amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 15, 2020   •   641

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday reiterated his call for the establishment of the proposed Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW) amid challenges posed by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to migrant workers.

In a statement, Go said that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the world economy, resulting in significant losses of jobs for Filipinos abroad.

Go has been pushing for the creation of a department that will manage the welfare and address concerns of OFWs.

“Noon pa lamang ay marami nang mga issues ang kinakaharap ng ating mga kababayang nagtatrabaho abroad. Ang paglipat-lipat ng ahensya ay naging pabigat na proseso sa kanila mula sa pagkuha ng kanilang mga permit, hanggang sa pagbigay ng tulong para maresolba ang mga problemang hinaharap nila sa ibang bansa,” he said.

“Mas lumala pa ngayon dahil sa hirap na dulot ng COVID-19 crisis. Kung mayroon pong DOFWs, mas mapapadali sana ang koordinasyon ng mga ahensya at may iisang departamento na tututok sa mga pangangailangan nila,” he added.

Go filed a bill seeking for the establishment of OFW department in 2019. The House of Representatives has passed its version in March this year while its Senate counterpart remains pending in the committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

His proposed Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019 proposes to put government agencies dealing with OFW affairs under one umbrella.

The measure also aims to address perennial issues, such as the need to ease the coordination among offices concerned with OFW affairs; immediate legal assistance to OFWs in distress; lack of full migration cycle approach in promoting migrant’s rights from pre-employment, onsite and reintegration services; and lack of shared database system that contains all information of all OFWs to aid in tracking their status and fast track delivery of assistance to distressed workers.

Currently, services and information about OFWs are scattered throughout several offices.

“Madaming dinadaanan pang iba’t ibang ahensya bago makaresponde ang gobyerno sa mga OFWs na humihingi ng saklolo. Iba-iba ang concern, iba-iba ang kailangang lapitan pa mula DFA, OWWA, MARINA, at iba pa,” Go said.

“Nalilito ang ating mga OFWs sa pangkasalukuyang sitwasyon. Sa oras na kailangan nila ng saklolo, hindi na nila alam sino dapat lapitan kaya sa media o Facebook sila nananawagan,” he added.

If a department for OFWs will be created, Go said this will make government more efficient and responsive to the concerns of Filipinos abroad.

“If mayroon na tayong department for OFWs, iisa na lang ang lalapitan at iisa na lang ang makikipag-coordinate na departamento. Magiging mas maayos ang pagresponde sa mga krisis at mas mabilis nating matutulungan ang ating mga kababayang humihingi ng saklolo,” he stressed.

The lawmaker stressed that the challenges currently faced by OFWs and the difficulties experienced by the government in responding to their needs show the relevance of the proposal to establish a department with a sole mandate to handle the concerns of our “modern day heroes”.

“Nakita po natin ang mga pagsubok na pinagdaraanan ng ating mga OFWs dahil sa COVID-19. Napapanahon na talaga para magtatag tayo ng departamento upang mas maprotektahan ang kanilang kapakanan,” Go said.

OFWs displaced by the public health emergency have been repatriated to the country through flights facilitated by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Labor and Employment have extended assistance to qualified OFW beneficiaries under the government’s livelihood and other assistance programs.

The Maritime Industry Authority, for its part, is implementing its Seafarers Uwi Pamilya program where seafarers stranded in Metro Manila are assisted in going home to their families in the provinces, subject to quarantine and other health protocols.

Pangulong Duterte, wala pang desisyon kung sino ang susuportahan sa 2022 elections – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Inihayag ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque ang pangalan ng ilang personalidad na posibleng basbasan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte bilang kandidato ng administrasyon sa 2022 presidential elections.

Kabilang sa mga binanggit ni Roque ay sina Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Senador Bong Go, Senador Manny Pacquiao, dating Senador Bongbong Marcos, at Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

Ngunit paglilinaw ni Roque, wala pang desisyon ang Pangulo kung sino sa mga ito ang kanyang susuportahan.

Hindi rin aniya sang-ayon ang nakatatandang Duterte na tumakbo sa pagka-pangulo ang kanyang anak sa darating na halalan.

“Alam ninyo nung talagang kinausap ko siya diyan at wala pa siyang desisyon. Mayroon lang talaga siyang options na sinabi but as of now, siguro nakatutok pa rin ang presidente dito sa pandemiya, dito sa bakuna,” ani Roque.

Samantala, naniniwala naman ang Palasyo na hindi ipinagbabawal ng batas na tumakbo sa pagka-bise presidente si Pangulong Duterte kasunod ng resolusyong ipinasa ng partidong PDP-Laban na nag-uudyok sa punong ehekutibo na kumandidato sa 2022 election.

Ngunit sa ngayon, ayon kay Roque, ay pinag-iisipan pa ito ng Pangulo.

“Kung pinagbabawal po ang presidente na tumakbong VP (vice president), dapat po sinulat yan, nagkaroon ng teksto sa ating saligang batas na nagbabawal diyan pero since wala pong prohibition, it must be allowed,” ayon sa opisyal.

Samantala, sinabi naman ni Roque na walang nakikitang problema ang Pangulo sa PDP-Laban at nananatili pa rin namang acting president ng partido si Pacquiao.

Ito ay sa kabila ng nangyayaring tensiyon sa pagitan ng ilang miyembro nito kasunod ng pagpalag ni Pacquiao sa ipinatawag na national council meeting ng PDP-Laban kamakailan.

13 local bills increasing hospital bed capacity get Senate nod

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading 13 local hospital bills seeking to improve the delivery of health care services by increasing the bed capacity of several hospitals in the country.

The bills approved by the Senate cover the following hospitals:

  • Eastern Visayas Medical Center
  • Benjamin Romuladez General Hospital and Schistosomiasis Center
  • Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center
  • East Avenue Medical Center
  • Davao Occidental General Hospital
  • Eastern Pangasinan Regional Medical and Trauma Center
  • First Misamis Oriental General Hospital
  • Bacolod City General Hospital
  • Rosario District Hospital
  • Sinait District Hospital
  • Naguilian District Hospital in La Union
  • Senate President Neptali A. Gonzales General Hospital
  • Rizal, Palawan Lying-In Clinic

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, who sponsored the measures, thanked his colleagues for supporting the approval of the bills.

He said the passage of the proposed legislations into law would ensure the stability of the national health care system by making sure that hospitals will have sufficient capacity resources and personnel to respond to the pandemic.

Go expressed hope that the bills would immediately be signed into law after hurdling the bicameral committee and be included in the budget for next year.

 

Duterte in good health, busy with paperwork — Go

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health condition and busy with paperwork, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said, dispelling rumors that the president suffered a mild stroke.

In a post on Facebook on Wednesday night, Go shared photos of him with Duterte to dismiss rumors circulating on social media about the president’s health and whereabouts.

“Sa mga may masasamang hangarin, wag muna kayo mag celebrate!! Nandito lang si Tatay Digong. Tambak ang trabaho,” said Go, a former long-time aide of Duterte.

Sa mga may masasamang Hangarin, Wag muna kayo mag celebrate!! Nandito lang si Tatay Digong. Tambak ang trabaho. “Hindi…

Posted by Christopher Bong Go on Wednesday, April 7, 2021

“Hindi ito ang panahon ng pagsisisihan kundi panahon ng Pagtutulungan. Suot ko damit kong dilaw pero DU30 yan!!!” Go said, referring to the term “yellow,” which is associated with the Liberal Party.

“Sana tulungan na lang natin ang ating mahal na Pangulo para malagpasan natin ang crisis na ito bilang nagkaka-isang mamamayang Pilipino. Salamat po,” he added.

Go’s post followed rumors claiming that Duterte’s public address was canceled this week because he suffered a mild stroke.

The senator earlier disclosed that Duterte’s usual “Talk to the People” was postponed after some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) caught COVID-19.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the public speech was rescheduled because the “physical safety of the President remains our utmost concern.”

“In addition, the preparation for the Talk of the People address entails a number of staff complement and we also take due consideration of their well-being,” Roque added.
PSG Commander Jesus Durante III earlier confirmed that a number of his members were infected with COVID-19. Out of 160 members, only 45 cases remain active.

He, however, assured that these guards are not closely detailed with the president and that they are stationed around Malacañang grounds, making their exposure to possible COVID-19 cases inevitable. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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