Press Release
August 13, 2020

Protect and prepare students during crises and disasters; Bong Go calls for equal opportunity for all students in transition to flexible learning

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed his support for measures which seek to ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipino students amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in times of other crises or disasters.

In a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture joint with the Committees on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education; Health and Demography; National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation; Ways and Means and Finance, Go urged government to prioritize safeguarding the Filipino youth in this time of pandemic.

"Nelson Mandela once said, 'Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.' I could not agree more," Go remarked during his opening statement.

"Our children's safety and well-being are of utmost importance and it is our responsibility to ensure these, not only in this time of COVID-19, but also as we usher in the 'new normal' that comes with it," he added.

The Senator, then, expressed his full support to the bills discussed during the hearing, saying "Ang mga inisyatibong ito ay mga hakbang para matulungan natin ang ating mga kabataan na maging handa, lalo na sa mga hamong dala ng 'new normal'."

The committee hearing tackled various bills that deal with improving policies in education and learning in the 'new normal' including pandemics education and disaster awareness and preparedness in schools' curricula.

"Given the present situation, kinakailangan na makapag-adapt, madagdagan, o baguhin ang ating school curricula para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kabataan ngayong 'new normal' at para makabuo din tayo ng isang 'better normal'," Go said.

The Senator also urged fellow lawmakers and educational institutions to ensure that the education system will become more proactive in dealing with and preparing Filipinos for crises and calamities.

"Bukod nito, dapat sakop din ng ating mga polisiyang pang-edukasyon ang kahit anumang krisis o sakuna na maaaring dumating. Let's be more proactive in our legislation so that we can prepare better," said Go.

During his opening statement, Go reiterated and echoed President Rodrigo Duterte's stand that no face-to-face classes must be conducted without a vaccine for COVID-19. This should urge education authorities to explore alternative modes of learning, he added.

"Tulad ng sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte, hangga't walang bakuna para labanan ang COVID-19, walang face-to-face classes na magaganap. Dahil dito, importante na makapagbigay tayo ng alternative modes of learning," Go said.

"Ang hiling ko lang po sa ating mga opisyales ay ang pag-aralan ang posibilidad na gamitin ang online at offline learning. Syempre, ayaw natin na maantala ang klase, ngunit mas prayoridad pa rin natin ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng lahat ng mga kabataan. Habang hindi pa po normal, sana wala na lang bumagsak para hindi ma-pressure ang mga estudyante," he added.

During the transition to online learning, Go said that he hopes all Filipino children will be given equal opportunity to learn wherever they are in the country.

"Kung tayo nga dito sa Senado ay nahihirapan sa transition to online, paano pa kaya sila? Bukod sa mga estudyante, dapat alalayan din natin ang ating mga guro. Dapat may angkop na trainings din para sa kanila," he said.

Go also emphasized the need for disaster preparedness in schools, stating that he has filed a measure which seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience "to work with our educational institutions in raising disaster awareness and preparedness."

"Maganda na magsimula na tayo ngayon," he said, explaining that the best way to mitigate the impact of disasters is by raising awareness on the importance of disaster preparedness starting with the youth.

The Senator filed in July Senate Bill No. 205 or the "Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019" which proposes the creation of DDR, "an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities."

The bill seeks to establish a clear system of responsibility for disaster preparedness and response in all levels of the government, given the increasing number and devastation brought about by various disasters.

Ending his statement, Go emphasized the need to "educate and make our people aware of how they should behave during health emergencies and other disasters, at a very young age."

The Senator also encouraged the public to help each other in preparation for the upcoming school year.

"Having said that, magtulong-tulong po tayo para mas mapaghandaan at mapabuti ang pag-aaral ng at pagtuturo sa ating mga estudyante," he ended.

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