COTABATO City – Former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday called for additional government support to farmers to mitigate the impact of dry spell brought by recurring El Niño phenomenon that devastates crops.
“Malaki na ang pinsalang dala ng El Niño. Dapat mas palawakin ang cloudseeding operations at free irrigation, kasama na ang solar-powered irrigation systems,” Go said in his message during the campaign rally of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party at the Notre Dame University Gym here.
Reports earlier said an estimated P605-million worth of agricultural crops in two provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), namely Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, where 10,818 hectares of rice and 11,039 hectares of corn are affected.
A total of 18,423 farmers have been affected in the two provinces, with Lanao del Sur having 11,087 farmers affected and 7,336 in Maguindanao.
Go, who has identified agriculture as one of his top priorities under his legislative agenda also proposed for improved access of farmers to cheaper fertilizer, seeds, machinery, and low-interest credit.
“Kailangan ding magbigay tayo ng mas maraming trainings para sa mga alternative livelihood ng ibang myembro ng pamilya ng ating mga maliliit na magsasaka at mangingisda.
Earlier in the day, Go held a motorcade around the city where he received an enthusiastic response from the residents.
“Sobrang init po ng pagtanggap ninyo sa akin, sing-init ng panahon. Nakakawala po ng pagod. Maraming salamat po sa mga kapatid natin dito sa Cotabato City at sa buong probinsya ng Maguindanao,” Go said.
The former SAP and the HNP senatorial slate secured the support of Cotabato City as HNP headed by Davao Mayor Sara Duterte forged an alliance with Team One Kutawato local party headed by Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi.
Go rallied the people of Cotabato City to support the HNP candidates as he also expressed confidence they would remember him when they troop to the polling places to vote.
“Alam ko naman hindi ninyo ako malilimutan, unang-una kapitbahay lang
tayo, taga-Davao ako, di ba mga Bisaya tayo? Mahal na mahal po ni Pangulong Duterte ang mga kapatid nating Muslim sa Davao City, ipinagpatuloy po ni Mayor Sara,” Go noted.
"Ang Pangulo naman, he recognizes Hajj as sacred religious obligation of every Muslim. Kaya bawat taon bilang tulong, nagpapadala siya ng pilgrims performing Hajj sa Mecca, Saudi Arabia," he added.
Go also assured his fellow Mindanaoans, that he would continue supporting the programs and policies of President Rodrigo Duterte, whom he has served for over 21 years.
“Kung masaya kayo (sa pamamahala ni Pangulong Duterte) ipagpatuloy natin yung pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte. Yung kampanya laban sa kriminalidad, kampanya laban sa corruption, at kampanya laban sa iligal na droga—suportado ko po iyan,” Go said.
Likewise, Go said that if elected to the Senate, he would support the implementation of the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” programs that are meant to stimulate economic activities and provide as well more job and employment opportunities for the people.
Among others, Go cited the on-going P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project in North Cotabato and Maguindanao that would provide irrigation water to 9,784 hectares of agricultural lands in the area.
Also in the pipeline is the P39.2-billion Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao River flood control projects, meant to benefit the flood-prone areas in Maguindanao. The government has conveyed on June 6, 2018 to the Chinese government the request to secure loan financing for the project.
As part of government support for agriculture in the area, there are also plans for the construction of two units of solar dryer with warehouse in two sitios in Paglat, Maguindanao. The proponents of the project were already required to submit the necessary funding requirements.
Go added that another top priority in his legislative agenda is to improve the delivery of health services in the country, particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center.
A project of the Duterte administration based on Go’s idea, the Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for indigent patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room concerned agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.
“Gusto ko pong isabatas ito pagdating ng panahon para tuloy-tuloy ang programa kahit hindi na pangulo si Pangulong Duterte. Meron na po kayong Malasakit Center dito Maguindanao sa Cotabato Regional and Medical Center. Ito po yung pang-16th na Malasakit Center natin out of the 34 na meron tayo ngayon,” Go said.
Other priority items in Go’s legislative agenda include programs for education, housing, long-term sports development, localized peace talks, fire protection and prevention, barangay welfare, creation of a Department of OFW, and improved benefits for senior citizens.
“Mga kapatid ko dito sa Cotabato, sa Maguindanao, sa Sultan Kudarat, minsan lang tayo daraan sa mundong ito. Kaya anuman ang mabuti na pwede nating gawin sa kapwa, gawin na natin dahil hindi na tayo daraan muli sa mundong ito,” Go said.
He vowed to serve Filipinos like he served President Duterte for over 21 years.
“Alam nyo po ang serbiyo sa tayo ay serbisyo sa Diyos, at serbisyo kay Allah. Wala kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go said.