SEN. Lawrence Christopher “Bong” Go recently distributed aid to fire victims on Boracay island in Aklan province as he cited the importance of protecting lives under the reopening of the tourism industry.
The senator urged local authorities and tourism stakeholders to protect the lives of citizens but at the same time carefully balance efforts to jumpstart the economy as Boracay island has begun accepting tourists amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Boracay started taking in visitors on October 1 after months of closure over the pandemic but with travel restrictions and quarantine measures in place.
Go urged Boracay residents and tourists to always observe health protocols such as wearing face masks and frequent washing of hands to protect themselves from Covid-19 and shield their livelihood from effects of the contagion.
“Importante na makabalik tayo sa normal na pamumuhay. Pero mas importante na maprotektahan ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino (It is important that we return to normal lives. But it is more important to protect the lives of every Filipino),” he said.
“’Wag tayong magkumpyansa (We should not be complacent),” Go told the residents in a video call on Thursday, October 22 during the distribution of assistance for fire victims held at the covered court in Barangay Manoc-Manoc in Malay, Aklan.
The opening of Boracay to tourists was a result of a special meeting done by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, led by its chairman, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, together with the secretaries of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Tourism and the provincial government of Aklan.
Among the measures imposed by the council is the “Test Before Travel” rule, which will require all visitors to have a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results 48 to 72 hours prior to traveling to the island, a world-famous travel destination.
Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, wants to ensure that the island and its residents continue to be safe from diseases and live healthily while tourism and local industries are promoted.
Meanwhile, his team distributed on the island aid to residents, who were affected by a fire in 2019.
About 300 beneficiaries received food packs, face masks and face shields.
The distribution was conducted while strictly complying with required health protocols.
Go previously provided relief assistance to the fire victims last year.
The senator also assured them that once the Covid-19 vaccine is available, the poor and vulnerable will be prioritized.
Because of limited public transportation and the need for local residents to commute to work, Go also distributed bicycles to select beneficiaries.
He also gave away tablets to another set of recipients to support their children’s education.
“Pakiusap ko lang sa kabataan: kung maaari lang po, mag-aral kayong mabuti. ‘Yan lang po ang magpapasaya sa mga magulang tulad ko (My appeal to the youth: please study hard. That will bring joy to parents like me).”
Personnel from the National Housing Authority were also present during the relief distribution.
Through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program, the agency provided additional housing assistance to the fire victims.
Despite the ongoing public health crisis, the senator continues to reach out and extend much needed assistance to Filipinos in crisis situations.
“Patuloy akong tutulong, lalong-lalo na sa mga mahihirap at mga pinaka-apektado ng krisis (I will continue to help especially the poor and those severely affected by the health crisis,” he said.