Bong Go seeks to protect Lumad rights, promote welfare

Former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go vowed to promote the interest and welfare of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), saying he wants to make sure they are not marginalized in our society.

Speaking at the Indigenous People’s Conference held at the Balanghai Hotel and Convention Center at Doongan, Butuan City on Saturday, Go said he will continue the genuine change President Rodrigo Duterte started that are meant to uplift the lives of the Filipino people.

“Wala po kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi ang kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go assured the IPs, particularly the Lumads present. 

Among the Lumad groups represented in the conference include the Ata, Maguindanao, Tausug, Sama, Marmaao Iranum, Ovo-Manuvo, Kagan, Matigsalog tribes, as well as the Bagobo-Tagabawa and Bagobo-Klata tribes of Mindanao.

In appreciation for Go’s concern for their welfare, Lumad leaders conducted a ceremonial prayer for the success of the former SAP and the Duterte administration.  

The Duterte administration had initiated several programs meant for the benefit of the Lumads.

Last February 1, 2018, during the first IP Mindanao leaders’ summit in Panacan, Davao City, President Duterte bared his directive to the National Housing Authority to (NHA) to establish a housing program for the IPs in Mindanao, to be built in their respective ancestral domains. The houses will be built based on the design of the tribe and should be typhoon- and earthquake-resistant. 

Likewise, the Department of Agriculture has launched the “Bantay Kagubatan,” meant to develop ancestral domains into food production areas. Under the program farming families and tribal people will be engaged in tree farming with intercrops of cacao, coffee, abaca, or black pepper. 

The participating families will also be supported with livelihood projects like raising native pigs and free-range chickens.

Apart from these programs, Go also said the Lumads to benefit from his legislative agenda for improved delivery of health services in the country, which include the establishment of Malasakit Center.

A program of the Duterte administration based on Go’s idea, the Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for poor patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room all concerned government agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PCSO, and Philhealth.

“Gusto ko pong isabatas ito pagdating ng panahon. Para po sa lahat ng Pilipino iyan,” said Go, noting that such as law would enable the establishment of Malasakit Center in more provinces key urban centers of the country and allow as well the continuity of the program even after the term of President Duterte.

Go said there are currently 27 Malasakit Centers operating all over the country, with one in Butuan City established last October 12, 2018.

The former SAP assured the Lumads that he would continue to serve them with the kind of genuine service the Duterte administration is known for.

“Patuloy po akong magbibigay ng serbisyong tatak Duterte. Ang bisyo ko po ay magserbisyo sa kapwa kong Pilipino,” Go said. 

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

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