Despite the improving pandemic situation in the Philippines, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, March 15 urged the government to strengthen measures against other threats to the country’s economic recovery, particularly the soaring oil and gas prices brought by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, said he welcomes initiatives, even a special session if necessary, to tackle legislative measures such as adjusting applicable taxes or providing extra budget for targeted support to vulnerable workers particularly in the transportation sector.

He also called on the government to fast-track the release of the subsidy allotted to jeepney drivers, many of whom are just recently returning to pre-COVID operations.

“We all know by now that there are other challenges coming our way including the tensions that continue to intensify between Russia and Ukraine,” said Go.

“While this may be far from our shores, there are also Filipinos in the said countries and nearby areas who may be directly affected by the conflict,” he added.

Go pointed out that the conflict also has profound effects on the global market, making the country vulnerable to oil price hikes.

“As a senator, I am looking into how the government should strengthen our measures to better address these problems,” he said.

In view of these threats, Go encouraged Filipinos to stay resilient as the government is working on interventions to mitigate the adverse impact of the global crisis on the economy. The Senator added that he supports proposals for the temporary moratorium on the collection of excise taxes on oil products to help the public cope with this challenge.

“While I understand that there are possible effects on our revenue collection especially now that we are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, there has to be a balance in order to protect the welfare of Filipinos especially the poor who are still trying to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” he explained.

“As of now, President Duterte has instructed concerned agencies to find solutions to mitigate and address the rising oil prices,” Go pointed out.

“My fellow legislators will help work alongside concerned executive agencies to explore all options to combat these challenges and ensure that ordinary Filipinos can be protected from the compounding adverse economic impacts,” he added.

Despite these challenges, Go said that the nation has learned a lot the past two years, adding that as long as Filipinos maintain their discipline, cooperation and compassion with one another, the Philippines could and would continue moving towards inclusive recovery.

“This is our way of recovering the time we lost in the past two years. It took us a while to get here, but finally, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to our frontliners, medical professionals, government, and the cooperation of our citizens, we can finally start rebuilding our lives amidst the adverse impacts of the pandemic,” he pointed out.

The senator from Davao then commended the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team, led by the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, as it conducted its latest round of nationwide multi-stakeholder dialogues on the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Through the CODE Team, we are able to step up our localized public education and outreach efforts to build up public trust and combat vaccine hesitancy in the grassroots. This will surely entice other Filipinos to get their vaccines and booster shots as protection from the severe effects of COVID-19,” he said.

As the national and local elections draw near, Go expressed hope that the next leaders would be able to build on the legacy of the Duterte Administration so as not to hamper the progress the government has achieved for the past six years.

“Looking back at the past six years, I can see the positive changes that he has made for the lives of our people despite the trials we are facing,” said Go.

“I hope that the next administration — whoever the Filipino people would elect — can sustain the momentum and ensure that efforts will not go to waste in providing a more comfortable life for all,” he added.

Go also called on everyone, regardless of political colors, to remain united towards a common goal of uplifting the lives of all Filipinos towards pandemic recovery, collective resilience, and inclusive development that should be felt in every corner of the country.

“Let us use this time as upright citizens to carefully and responsibly exercise our right to vote and participate in the democratic process knowing that it is the future of our country and our people that is at stake,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (