An advocate for the welfare of Filipino farmers and agricultural workers, Senator Bong Go reiterated his push for his filed Senate Bill No. 194 or the E-Governance Act of 2022 which mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and interoperable information and resource-sharing and communications network spanning the entirety of the national and local government, an internal records management information system, an information database, and digital portals for the delivery of public services.
Go renewed pushing for the bill after expressing his support to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s initiative to strengthen data sharing among government agencies in a bid to address agricultural smuggling in the Philippines efficiently.
“Government should be more responsive to the demands of changing times. There’s no better time than now to prioritize the government’s digital transformation,” the legislator said.
“The government must use information and communications technology to better serve its purpose and get closer to the people.”
“The government must use information and communications technology to better serve its purpose and get closer to the people in an era where practically everything can be done online and through other digital channels,” the lawmaker said.
An ardent advocate of local farmers and ordinary consumers, the senator also reiterated his call for the greater protection of the interests and welfare of the local producers, saying “Dapat talaga ay ipagpatuloy natin ang pagbibigay ng nararapat na suporta at proteksyon sa ating mga local farmers. Kaya naman masaya ako na palaging inuuna ni Pangulong Marcos ang kapakanan ng ating magsasaka. Naiintindihan niya kung bakit talaga natin kinakailangan tutukan ang agricultural sector dahil isa ito sa nagpapaunlad ng ating ekonomiya.”
“Tayong nasa gobyerno, unahin natin ang kapakanan ng maliliit nating farmers. Ito po ‘yung nagbibigay sa atin ng pagkain at nakakatulong sa ating pamilya at komunidad, lalung-lalo na po sa mga mahihirap,” he underscored.
In a statement issued by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), Marcos, during a recent meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), urged all concerned agencies to coordinate with each other and develop a more whole-of-nation approach to fight smuggling, stressing that the current system was not working.
The Chief Executive likewise mentioned that he has been receiving complaints from the business sector, citing the inefficiency of the country’s airport and seaport system. For this reason, the President prompted all involved agencies to be more innovative and, if necessary, delineate functions or establish new agencies.
One of the recommendations raised was opening up the database to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ensure the efficient sharing of information, the statement continued.
“To be brutally frank about it, we have a system but they are not working. The smuggling here in this country is absolutely rampant. So, it does not matter to me how many systems we have in place, they do not work,” Marcos stressed.
“So, we really have to find something else. We cannot continue to depend on these systems which have already proven themselves to be quite ineffective,” he pushed.
Go’s E-Governance Bill also pushes for the digitization of paper-based and other traditional modes of workflows for a more efficient and transparent public service.
The bill also provides for the establishment of the Integrated Government Network (IGN) which will act as the primary means for the sharing and communication of resources, information, and data through digital and electronic platforms across the government.
The IGN will also act as the government’s primary and focal information management tool and communications network.
He then reiterated his appeal to his fellow public servants to work together to efficiently eliminate agricultural smuggling in the country.
Go emphasized that there should be necessary legal actions in the event of any wrongdoing so that those responsible could be brought to justice and punished.
“Ang apela ko po sa (Bureau of) Customs, Department of Agriculture, executive department, unahin n’yo po ang kapakanan ng local farmers. Hulihin nyo po ang mga smuggler, panagutin, kasuhan. Hindi lang kasuhan, ikulong po kung dapat ikulong,” he previously said during an ambush interview after personally aiding struggling residents in Pandi, Bulacan last December.
“Dapat ikulong yung mga nananamantala at proteksyunan natin ang kapakanan ng ating local farmers.”
“Dapat ikulong yung mga nananamantala at proteksyunan natin ang kapakanan ng ating local farmers. Kasi kapag naproteksyunan natin ang local farmers, dalawa po yan. Ibig sabihin natulungan natin sila, nabigyan natin ng hanapbuhay, trabaho at may laman po ang kanilang tiyan,” Go added.
He likewise cited Republic Act No. 10845, also known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law, which could penalize anyone found to be guilty of economic sabotage.
“Mayroon tayong Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law at maaaring economic sabotage ang ikaso sa kanila kung sakaling malaking volume po ang mahuhuli sa kanila. Paigtingin pa ang kampanya laban sa illegal activities tulad ng smuggling na nakakasama sa kabuhayan ng mga pangkaraniwang Pilipino,” Go stressed during an ambush interview after the relief operation he personally led in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro last December.
In line with his commitment to strengthening the support given to the agricultural sector, Go co-authored RA 11901 which expands the agriculture, fisheries, and rural development financing system. He has also been advocating for other programs to support farmers and fisherfolk in the country, such as the enhancement of the irrigation of farmlands and expansion of the National Rice Program.