Sen. Bong Go responds to Pascual column

(The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2021 - 12:00am

While we continue to call for unity and bayanihan amid the continuing threats of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are others who intentionally choose to sow hatred and spread fake news.

In the April 6 Philippine STAR opinion article of columnist Federico Pascual Jr. (“Let COVID rage till close to 2022 polls?”), the author used a misquoted statement which he attributed to ‘a certain Bong Go’ saying that “if we don’t solve this pandemic, there will be no elections.” Not only was this statement taken out of context, perhaps to suit a particular agenda or narrative of whoever the author represents, but it was also deliberately cherry-picked to malign me and paint in bad light my efforts to help our people in need.

The said quote was taken from an interview during PTV’s Laging Handa program last Feb. 6, 2021 on a topic concerning the 2022 elections, in which I responded with the same that I have always repeated whenever the subject came up:

“Please count me out po. Huwag n’yo po akong isama diyan sa usapang election. Importante po malampasan muna natin itong pandemyang ito dahil kung hindi natin malalampasan itong pandemyang ito, wala na po tayong eleksyong pag-uusapan. Importante po ngayon ay buhay tayo, malalampasan natin itong pandemyang ito, makakabalik po tayo sa normal nating pamumuhay, at kung paano natin matutulungan ang ating kapwa Pilipino…”

The statement was and is clearly a call for fellow public servants and the general public, regardless of political views, not to engage in political talks about the upcoming elections since there is still an ongoing pandemic that needs to be addressed. My emphasis here is that if we do not survive this crisis, there will be no politics nor election to even speak of. Let me stress further that we, together with the rest of the world, are fighting for the survival of humanity against a deadly virus. That is why we should focus instead on saving lives and serving our people at a time when they need our help the most.

Aside from the said quote, the rest of his column went on to push wild ‘theories’ and feature false claims accusing the government of deliberately prolonging the current crisis for political reasons. Not even an iota of logic can be found in such accusations. The survival of our people is at stake here and obviously, President Rodrigo Duterte and I, together with the rest of the government, are determined to put an end to the pandemic immediately in order to save lives.

The unfounded criticisms and illogical comparisons from Mr. Pascual’s column must not derail our focus in serving our fellow Filipinos with utmost diligence, compassion and empathy. I am certain that hard work and genuine public service resonate more with Filipinos than complaining and fear-mongering.

Kaya ang maipagmamalaki ko bilang inyong lingkod-bayan ay ang aking sipag sa pagseserbisyo na may puso at malasakit, at ang aking diskarte at common sense para alamin kung ano ang totoong makakatulong sa ating kapwa, lalo na sa oras ng kanilang pangangailangan.

Our focus as public servants should always be on putting the best interests of the country first. This is why I have been dedicating all of my time in performing my duties as a legislator and as a representative of the people, while also fulfilling my commitment of helping our constituents in their time of need, particularly during crisis situations. I am not competing with anyone. I am simply doing my job beyond what is expected of me as a senator.

As the chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, I continue to push and support measures that not only aim to address the current pandemic but also to prepare our country for other health crises in the future.

It is for this reason that I recently echoed President Duterte’s call to establish a virology institute that will capacitate the country to conduct scientific research initiatives on preventing and treating various viruses and diseases. By being more proactive, we hope that the Philippines can eventually be able to develop or even manufacture our own vaccines someday against future pandemics. This is to avoid a repetition of our present situation where poorer nations, like ours, are left with fewer supplies of vaccines as compared to richer and more developed countries that have early on invested in health sciences and medical research.

I wish to emphasize to Mr. Pascual that disregarding such proposals without any factual basis other than his own biases will not help and will simply deprive Filipinos of a possible solution that can potentially save lives in the future.

As I have consistently said before, we need a whole-of-nation approach to address this pandemic. President Duterte, himself, continues to be inclusive in dealing with various situations. He also reminds fellow government officials to engage with various groups who are more than willing to share their expertise and contribute to the bayanihan efforts. The government cannot do this alone. Every Filipino has an integral role to play in instilling positive change in our communities. Instead of the constant bickering and relentless criticisms, we should embody the bayanihan spirit as the key to defeating COVID-19, as well as other ills in our society.

I hope that next time Mr. Pascual decides to share his thoughts, he can instead use his voice in ways that can help our people. I hope that his creative ideas can be channeled towards contributing to the greater good, such as feeding the stomachs of those who are hungry rather than feeding hatred and lies in the minds of his readers.

Those of us who wield the capacity to influence should be cooperating with one another and putting forward sensible solutions rather than squabbling over the pettiest of things. Life is so short to focus on blaming instead of helping.

Hindi po ito panahon para magsisihan. Panahon ito upang magtulungan!

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