ON Monday, October 26, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go personally attended the launch of the country’s 89th Malasakit Center at the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital in Digos City. The center, a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance, is the first of its kind in the province and the fifth in Davao Region.
Malasakit Centers have been launched in the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, in the four branches of Compostela Valley Provincial Hospital in Davao de Oro, Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City and, recently, in Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center in Mati City.
In his speech, the Senator expressed his support for proposals to appoint a vaccine czar to focus on preparations and development of vaccines against COVID-19. Go, however, emphasized that government must prioritize the poor and vulnerable sectors when these vaccines are made available and deemed safe for distribution.
“Prerogative po ‘yan ng Pangulong Duterte should he appoint or assign a vaccine czar. Okay po sa akin. Sang ayon ako kung gusto ni Pangulo. Ang importante para sa akin, ‘yung in charge sa vaccine, uunahin niya ang poor [at vulnerable],” Go said during an ambush interview after the event.
”Ang importante sa akin, mabigyan ang Pilipinong walang access at walang pambili. Ang importante safe ang vaccine. Safety ng bawat Pilipino po ang [dapat] unahin natin dahil para sa akin ang pera kikitain natin pero ang perang kikitain natin ay ‘di po nabibili ang buhay,” he said.
On this note, he urged the participating companies in ongoing clinical trials to prioritize the welfare of the people.
“Mayroon nang nag-apply sa atin, sabi ni [Food and Drug Administration] Director General [Rolando] Domingo at mag-uumpisa na sila ng clinical trial. I am urging lahat po ng gustong sumali sa clinical trial na ‘wag ninyo pong pagsamantalahan. Dapat po mabilis at safe [ang vaccine]. Huwag niyo po gawing negosyo. Dapat po affordable sa bawat Pilipno,” he appealed.
During the launch, the Senator also expressed gratitude to Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas; Governor Douglas Cagas; Vice Governor Marc Cagas; Congresswoman Mercedes Cagas; Digos City Mayor Josef Cagas; and Chief of Hospital Dr. Bonifacio Osotros, among others, for their support to the Malasakit Center.
Last December 3, President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers of 2019. The act aims to improve access to medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing under one roof the offices of the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, PhilHealth, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Furthermore, it may provide access to similar programs provided by other government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations and private institutions and individuals.
The act, authored and sponsored by Go, mandates the establishment of a Malasakit Center in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila City and every DOH-run hospital throughout the country.
Speaking to the guests, the Senator urged everyone to continue complying with the health and safety protocols until an effective and safe vaccine for COVID-19 is available.
After the event, his staff provided the hospital’s medical frontliners with meals. Selected recipients were also given bicycles while others were gifted with tablets for their children to use in the online classes being carried out under the new blended learning approach. Meanwhile, the DSWD also distributed cash assistance to 56 indigent patients.
“Alam kong nahihirapan na kayo. Kami nahihirapan na rin. Tiis lang po tayo. Magtulungan tayo at please cooperate lang with the government. Sino pa ba ang magtutulungan kundi tayong kapwa Pilipino? Huwag kayong mag-alala dahil malalampasan natin ito,” promised Go.
Meanwhile, Go also reaffirmed the Duterte Administration’s commitment to combatting and eradicating corruption within government. He discussed the newly formed task force to investigate all agencies allegedly plagued with corruption issues, such as the Department of Public Works and Highway, Bureau of Customs, and Bureau of Internal Revenue, among others.
“Nirekomenda ko kay President [Rodrigo] Duterte na magkaroon ng task force hanggang sa matapos ang termino niya na hindi lang mag-iimbestiga sa [Philippine Health Insurance Corporation], kundi patin na rin sa iba’t-ibang ahensya ng gobyerno. It will conduct investigations, lifestyle checks, audit public funds, recommend suspensions, file charges and put [the guilty] in jail those found guilty,” explained Go.
“Hintayin niyo lang! Ipapakain ni President Duterte iyong ninakaw ninyong pera. Lulunukin ninyo talaga […] hindi kami titigil sa kampanya laban sa korapsyon, kriminilidad at iligal na droga,” he vowed, before thanking the men and women in uniform for their service.