Senator Christopher “Bong” Go reaffirmed his commitment to protecting Filipinos’ right to access health care services with the launch of the country’s 121st Malasakit Center held virtually at the Bontoc General Hospital in Bontoc, Mountain Province on Friday, June 25.
The BGH is the sixth hospital in the Cordillera Administrative Region and second in the province to formally open its own Malasakit Center. The same center is also found at the Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital in Barangay Abatan, Bauko which was launched last May 7.
“Pasensya po at gusto ko sanang dumalo diyan pero naging delikado ang panahon. Ayaw ko naman ipagpaliban ang pagbubukas nito dahil marami ang nangangailangan ng tulong. Lalo na ngayong may pandemya, maraming pasyente ang gustong makahingi ng tulong mula sa gobyerno para sa kanilang pampagamot,” Go started in his virtual speech.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop which brings together under one roof the agencies which offer medical assistance programs, including the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
During his stint as Special Assistant to the President, Go opened the pioneering Malasakit Center at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City in 2018 with the aim of expanding access to health care for particularly poor and financially incapacitated patients.
Upon winning a seat in the Senate in 2019, he authored and sponsored the measure that became Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.
The Act mandates all DOH-run hospitals to establish their own Malasakit Center. Other public hospitals, including those run by local government units, may also open their own provided they meet a standard set of criteria to ensure the sustainability of its operations.
“Ipinangako kong isasabatas ko ‘to para kahit wala na kami ni Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte sa gobyerno ay tuloy-tuloy ito. Kung nakakatulong lang naman ‘to sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan, pakiusap ko sa susunod na administrasyon na sana ay patuloy nila itong suportahan,” continued Go.
“Wala ‘tong pinipili. Basta Pilipino at poor o indigent patient ka, qualified ka sa Malasakit Center. Kung tatanggihan kayo, sabihin niyo, ‘karapatan ko ito bilang Pilipino’. Pera niyo ito na binabalik lang namin sa pamamagitan ng maayos na serbisyo,” he added.
The Senator, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, promised to continue fighting for better health care for all, especially those in low-income, far flung and rural communities.
Last June 24, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law 13 measures which aim to improve the capacity of various hospitals to provide quality care in their respective localities. The Go sponsored bills will increase the bed capacities, upgrade the facilities and establish new hospitals specifically in various parts of the country.
“Bukas ang opisina namin ni Pangulo kung may gusto kayong hingin na tulong. Hindi kami mangangako ng hindi namin kaya pero gagawin namin ang lahat para tulungan kayo. Lalo na nasa gitna tayo ng krisis, panahon ito para magmalasakit sa ating kapwa,” he said.
“Please continue to cooperate with the government para ma-achieve natin ang herd immunity… Pakiusap sa mga miyembro ng eligible na priority groups, magpabakuna na kayo kung mahal niyo ang pamilya at anak niyo. Kailangan protektado kayo para makabalik na tayo sa dati nating pamumuhay,” ended Go.
Following the ceremony, Go’s personnel handed out meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 261 frontline health workers. They also gave selected recipients new shoes or bicycles for their daily commuting needs, while others received computer tablets for their children’s school activities.
Additionally, a team from the DSWD provided 201 rank-and-file employees with financial assistance. The same forms of aid were likewise extended to 51 indigent patients.
“Napanood namin sa telebisyon na tinutulungan daw ng Malasakit Center ang may mga sakit. Hindi ako nahirapan humingi ng tulong. Naging madali ‘yung proseso. Hindi ka pabalik-balik at hindi marami ang requirements. Sobrang laking tulong niya kasi wala akong binayaran sa pag-oospital ko,” said Jonalina Galate, a patient.
“Maraming salamat sa Malasakit Center para sa assistance. Maraming salamat rin sa founder ng programa na si Senator Bong Go. More power to you, sir! Sana marami pa kayong matulungan na katulad ko,” she added.
The Senator went on to express his gratitude to various officials for their assistance and efforts to improve the delivery of health services in Bontoc. He specifically thanked Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Assistant Secretary Girlie Veloso of the Office of the President, Representative Maximo Dalog, Jr., Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr., Vice Governor Francis Tauli, and Mayor Frankline Odsey.
Go also recognized Provincial Board Members Henry Bastian, Donato Danglose, Salvador Dalang, Randy Awisan, Joshua Fronda, Janice Barillo, Federico Onsat and Andrie Claver; Philippine Councilors League President Ashley Sili; Indigenous People Mandatory Representative Tomas Tawagen; Liga ng mga Barangay President Alfonso Ligos, Jr.; and Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President Jazzel Masidong, among others.
To help facilitate the development of Mountain Province, Go has supported the funding of various infrastructure projects. The projects include the improvement of the Sadsadan – Bacalinao – Salin Access Road in Besao, Cotcot Road in Bauko and Masla -Wakes farm-to-market road in Tadian; construction of a flood control structure in Chico River in Barangay Monamon Norte, Bauko; construction of a multi-purpose building in Paracelis and Sadanga; and installation of solar lights in strategic areas in Sabangan, among others.