Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday said he would like to strengthen the support provided by government to Indigenous Peoples. He said that through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), government can do more to protect the welfare of IP communities.

“Marami po akong narinig na hinaing nila, mga reklamo nila, mga kapakanan nila. So gusto ko po tingnan kung ano po ang problema nila at kung paano po kami makakatulong. Palakasin natin ang NCIP,” Go said in an interview.

He added that there is a clamor from IPs to amend Executive Order No. 115 s. 2002 issued by the Office of the President which authorizes payment of death benefits to barangay officials who die during their term of office. Unfortunately, the IP Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) to the barangays are not covered by the benefits since the EO covers only punong barangay, seven barangay kagawads, SK president as ex-officio member, barangay kagawad, secretary and treasurer who die during their term of office.

“Pwede naman ipa-amend ang EO 115. Pag-aaralan natin kung ano ang mas makakabuti. Importante kay Pangulong Duterte na hindi mapabayaan ang IPs,” he said.

Go was in Pampanga with a group of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte that brought more than 40 doctors from Metro Manila to give free checkups and medical advice to the indigenous tribe Aeta on December 21, 2018.

Aetas from different parts of Central Luzon gathered at the ASEAN Convention Center in Clark Freeport Zone for the event that also included the oathtaking ceremony of the officers of Alyansa ng Katutubong Ayta ng Pilipinas (AKAP).

Go graced the occasion as guest of honor upon the invitation of Emilie Garcia who spearheaded the event. Garcia is the chairperson of Brave Women of Digong and the chairperson for Pampanga of Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte–National Executive Coordinating Council (MRRD-NECC).

In his message, Go shared the success of the Malasakit Center project and how it can help indigenous peoples and indigent Filipinos.

“To improve the health of our citizenry, I am pushing for the establishment of more Malasakit Centers. The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where quality healthcare services are made accessible to everyone especially those in need,” said Go, who is running for senator in the 2019 elections.

Malasakit Centers established in government hospitals houses together various government agencies, such as the DOH, DSWD, Philhealth, PAGCOR, and PSCO to make it easier for indigent and disadvantaged patients to avail themselves of medical and financial assistance from the government.

Go played a crucial role in the establishment of Malasakit Centers when he was still President Duterte’s top aide. He revealed that more Malasakit Centers will be built in other areas of the country.

Currently, there are 18 Malasakit centers nationwide. If put into law, Go plans to establish one in each province and urbanized city to make healthcare more accessible to all filipinos. He also plans to push for legislative measures to increase the bed capacities of government hospitals.

Go shared that he also wants the government to provide free school supplies, uniforms and other education-related needs to students especially in indigenous communities to encourage IP children to get a good education.

“Bigyan natin ang bawat pilipino ng oportunidad na makapag-aral at makatapos,” he said.

For farmers and fishermen especially in IP communities, he vowed to help expand the Department of Agriculture’s initiative to open special markets.

“Suportahan natin ang programa ng DA. Ang TienDA Malasakit Stores na itagayo sa mga pangunahing lungsod at bayan sa bansa upang direktang makabili ang ating mga kababayan ng sariwa at murang pagkain na mula sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Go said.

Go was welcomed by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda and Vice Governor Dennis Pineda who also attended the gathering.

Apart from health, education and agriculture, Go’s legislative agenda includes programs on anti-illegal drugs and criminality, housing, long-term sports development, anti-corruption, localized peace talks, fire protection and prevention, creation of a Department of OFW, barangay welfare and improved benefits for senior citizens.

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