Go backs Duterte’s plan to prioritize frontliners, poor in COVID-19 vaccination

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Christopher GoChristopher Go

Sen. Christopher Go (Photo from his office)

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Christopher Go fully supports the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the poor and the frontliners, including military and police personnel, in being vaccinated against COVID-19 once the vaccine becomes available.

He stressed this in an interview he gave last Thursday, Oct. 15, after the turnover of new fire trucks and firefighting equipment at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, according to a statement his office issued on Saturday.

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He also repeated the President’s assurance that money had been set aside for buying vaccines and for the country’s participation in clinical trials.

“Our finance managers are looking for more money in case we run short,” Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said in Filipino.

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“Let me repeat: When a vaccine becomes available and is declared safe to be injected in people, President Duterte will prioritize the poor. President Duterte will prioritize the soldiers, the frontliners, and those in vulnerable sectors so that they can return to work and to a normal life,” he added.

He pointed out that Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology had earlier disclosed that the government could get access to vaccines for up to 20 million Filipinos through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX.

Until then, Go encouraged the public to keep following health protocols, such as wearing masks and face shields, observing social distancing, and frequently washing hands to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

“I’m happy that Filipinos are disciplined and are following the reminders of the government,” he said. “Just cooperate with the government. This is all for you. Everything that we do is all for you,” he said.

Reenacted budget ‘highly unacceptable’

In the same interview, Go repeated his call to members of the House of Representatives to set aside politics and focus on the work to be done by passing on time a 2021 national budget that would be responsive to the needs of the Filipino people during the pandemic.

“I am appealing to my fellow legislators. Let us pass the budget on time,” he said. “To the congressmen, please pass it. Finish it and send it to us in the Senate. And we here in the Senate are prepared to adjust our time. Even if the resumption [of session] is on November 16, we are prepared to resume it on November 9 if necessary.”

“We cannot afford to have a reenacted budget,” he added. “A reenacted budget is highly unacceptable. A few days ago the President was angry. He said a reenacted budget would not do. The budget has to be passed. He will sign it as soon as it reaches his desk. As a senator, I am always ready to work. This is for the country. Let’s pass it so that there will be no more finger-pointing, no more blaming. Let us return to the people what should be theirs.”

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“I have an advice to all politicians,” he went on. “It can’t be avoided that there will be debates and quarrels about various issues. But my request to you is don’t waste time. Let’s prioritize our fellow Filipinos who are depending on our service. We were put in office because our fellow Filipinos are depending on us to give them service.”

Meanwhile, Go also expressed his confidence that the passage of Senate Bill No. 1844 — which would give the President the authority to expedite processing and issuance of permits, licenses, and certifications during national emergencies — would improve the delivery of public services and enable government agencies to be more responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Rest assured that our efforts to eradicate corruption and red tape will continue,” he said. “Up to the last day of the term of President Duterte, let us help him eradicate these. Nothing will happen to us for as long as corruption continues in our system of government.”

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