Press Release
April 12, 2020

Bong Go echoes calls to grant financial assistance to PLGUs during COVID-19 emergency

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go echoed the sentiments of several provincial governors over the need to provide a one-time 'Bayanihan' financial assistance to provincial local government units (PLGUs).

Go has recommended to the Executive Branch that a one-time grant equivalent to half of the province's one-month Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) can help further capacitate PLGUs to respond effectively to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.

Go emphasized that PLGUs can ensure the readiness of provincial hospitals to handle the COVID-19 health emergency since they are in charge of funding, sustaining and enhancing the operations of these local health facilities.

"Marami sa mga patients natin ay sa provincial hospitals po unang dinadala. It is the PLGUs that pay for the operations of these hospitals."

But aside from ensuring that provincial hospitals are well-equipped to treat COVID-19 related cases, Go noted that PLGUs have additional roles to play in the fight against the pandemic which warrant additional government support.

"PLGUs play a crucial role in implementing the measures imposed by the national government to control the spread of the virus. It would be beneficial to the people if PLGUs are also given additional funding to better respond to the needs of their constituents," Go said.

Go, together with various PLGUs, noted that provinces also ensure the successful implementation of the government's enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measure. Among those who have expressed their sentiments in letters and messages addressed to the Senator were Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte, Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor, and Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba, among others.

In a letter from Villafuerte, the Camarines Sur governor mentioned that PLGUs provide food assistance covering all municipalities and component cities within their jurisdiction and on top of that, they also provide financial support, shelter or quarantine quarters for stranded non-residents as well.

Likewise, Dolor stated that provincial governments also take care of border protection to control the spread of the virus, provide food and maintenance for people in quarantine sites, and provide transportation and temporary dormitories for medical frontliners.

Due to the prolonged health emergency, various governors noted that financial resources of PLGUs, such as calamity fund disbursements and real estate tax collections, have either exceeded their limit or have been drained, warranting assistance from the national government. They also cited the need for funds to create a surge in economic development which has been slowed down by the COVID-19 health crisis.

In a letter sent by the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, the umbrella organization of all leagues of local government units, through their National President and Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua, the group appeals for a similar grant for PLGUs as to what was recently approved for cities and municipalities.

The letter further explained that provincial governments, as the highest form of government in the sub-national level, play a vital role in the COVID-19 situation as managers of the health care provider networks, according to the Universal Health Care Law.

In earlier statements, Go reiterated his appeal for the provision of the assistance to PLGUs following the approval of his request to grant a one-time 'Bayanihan' financial assistance to cities and municipalities.

"Huwag na nating hayaan na kumalat pa ang virus. Ihanda na natin ang mga probinsya kahit sa pinaka-malalayong mga lugar. I-equip na natin ang kanilang mga ospital. Dagdagan na rin natin ang mga testing centers and quarantine facilities," he added.

As a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee overseeing the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Go also reminded PLGUs to use the additional funding prudently if their request is approved.

"Gamitin lang ng mabuti ang pondo pangtulong sa mga tao. Importante na malampasan natin ito ng sama-sama, walang pulitika, at walang pinipili ang tinutulungan," he said.

Go stressed that the additional funding, if granted, should be used exclusively for its intended purpose in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as determined by the national government.

"Dapat magtulungan ang LGUs at national government agencies, pati na rin ang private sector, para matapalan kung ano man ang magiging kulang sa mga kailangan ng taumbayan," Go emphasized.

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