SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go warned the public against scammers who use his name and President Rodrigo Duterte's to buy and sell medical supplies amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Go said that he was made aware of reports on certain groups using his name and that of the President to purchase and sell medical supplies. He then clarified that his office does not buy nor sell such supplies because that is not his job as legislator, and that there are concerned government agencies in charge of procuring them.
"Scam at walang katapusang fake news po iyan. Hindi po bumibili ang opisina ko ng anumang medical supplies. Hindi ko trabaho iyan," he said.
"Mayroon pong ahensya ng gobyerno na may mandato para bumili ng mga iyan. Kung marami po kayong supply ng masks, i-donate niyo nalang sa mga nangangailangan nang walang bayad kaysa magpaloko po kayo sa mga nangsasamantala at ginagamit pa ang pangalan namin sa kalokohan nila," he added.
The Senator further emphasized that he and President Duterte will not allow these unscrupulous individuals to profit using their names and that even their families and friends are "prohibited to use their names for vested interests."
"Gaya ng sinabi ko noon, kung may kaibigan o kamag-anak kami na gagamit ng pangalan namin ni Pangulong Duterte para sa sarili nilang interes, dapat automatic denied iyan," Go said.
"Kung mayroon naman kaming staff na pumapasok sa negosyo para rin sa sarili nilang interes, automatic tanggal iyan sa trabaho," he added.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go stated that he is ready to conduct an investigation on any anomaly connected with the purchase or selling of medical supplies and equipment by abusive officials or entrepreneurs.
"I am urging the Executive Branch, particularly the National Bureau of Investigation, to investigate, initiate filing of cases, and arrest corrupt officials and private individuals who are taking advantage of this situation to make money," he said.
Go also reminded private individuals not to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to make money.
"Sa mga pribadong indibidwal naman, huwag ninyo pong pagkakitaan o gawing negosyo ang krisis na ito. Lahat po ng mga Pilipino ay naghihirap, huwag ninyo naman pong gamitin ang pagkakataong ito para pagsamantalahan pa sila," he said.
As for the general public, Go reminded them not to fall for these scams and warned scammers that justice will eventually catch up with them. "Huwag po tayo magpaloko. Kung walang magpapaloko, hindi mananaig ang mga manloloko. Sa mga nangsasamantala lalo na sa panahon ng krisis, huwag kayo mag-alala. Aabutan rin kayo ng hustisya."
To intensify the country's fight against misinformation and scams especially in times of public health emergencies, Go has recently filed a Senate Bill 1528 which seeks to amend Republic Act 11332, also known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act".
Aside from strengthening the country’s efforts in disease surveillance and epidemiologic investigation, the proposed measure also seeks to hold liable those who are involved in prohibited acts during a health crisis, such as taking advantage of the situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar illegal acts.
It also prohibits creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information on social media and other platforms. This includes spreading information clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion.
At the end of his statement, Go emphasized that scams and abusive business practices should not be allowed most particularly in times of crises.
"Every peso counts especially in times of crises. We should not allow scams and abusive business practices to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of fellow Filipinos," Go said.
"Tanging konsensya nalang natin ang makapagbabantay sa ating mga ginagawa lalo na sa panahon na naghihirap ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi po tayo papayag na may nangsasamantala pa sa panahong ito. Magtulungan nalang po tayo para sa ikabubuti ng kapwa nating Pilipino," he concluded.