IN pursuit of President Rodrigo Duterte’s vision of providing provinces better access to government services, particularly in terms of healthcare, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go virtually attended the launching of the country’s 97th Malasakit Center at the Sulu Provincial Hospital in Jolo, Sulu on Wednesday, January 6.
The Malasakit Center is the first in Sulu and the fifth in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, after Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City; Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City; Datu Halun Sakilan Memorial Hospital in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi; and Maguindanao Provincial Hospital in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.
In his speech as the program’s guest, the senator recognized the efforts and sacrifices of doctors, nurses, and other members of the hospital staff and reminded them to serve their patients with excellence, regardless of their ability to pay for the needed care. The Malasakit Center, he explained, is a product of Duterte’s and his shared vision to fight for the welfare of the sick by providing them access to medical assistance whenever they need it.
“Ano ba ang qualification ng Malasakit Center? Basta indigent patient ka, qualified ka. Basta Pilipino ka, qualified ka. Walang pinipili ang Malasakit Center,” said Go.
The senator also stressed his firm commitment to ensure Filipinos’ right to access health care, especially during these challenging times. Go explained that he and the President will always prioritize the welfare and well-being of the poor, hence the move to defer the scheduled increase in contributions of the members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation this year.
“Isa ako sa nakiusap at umapela kay Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte, sa Department of Budget and Management, at kay PhilHealth President Dante Gierran na ipagpaliban muna ang pag-increase ng contribution dahil talagang hirap ang ating mga kababayan,” said Go.
Acknowledging that corruption issues have undermined the public’s trust in the agency, he vowed that the individuals who would be proven guilty of corruption and other crimes that threatened the stability of the National Health Insurance Program would be held accountable.
“Hindi kami titigil ni Pangulong Duterte na labanan ang korapsyon sa gobyerno lalo na dyan sa PhilHealth. Sinabi niya na maraming matatanggal at mananagot dahil ayaw niyang may mawala ni piso na pera ng taumbayan, lalo na kung ito ay para sa kalusugan dahil para sa amin, importante ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” continued Go.
He then appealed to government employees to come forward with the truth about the issues hounding the agency. He added that those who will help fight corruption will be protected as long as they tell the truth.
“Kaya nakikiusap ako sa mga empleyado ng PhilHealth. Alam ko mas marami kayo ‘yung gustong maglingkod ng buong katapatan at magserbisyo sa taumbayan,” said Go.
“Kakaunti lang ‘yung mga corrupt diyan kaya hindi kami titigil hangga’t malinis ang PhilHealth at managot ang dapat managot doon sa mga controversies,” he assured.
To help ensure that every Filipino can access affordable and quality health care, Go authored and sponsored the passage of the measure when he was elected senator that became Republic Act No. 11463, also known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.
Signed last December 3, 2019, the law brings together the government agencies from which indigent patients may seek medical assistance, namely, the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, PhilHealth, and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
The one-stop shop centers aim to reduce to the lowest amount possible the balance of the hospital bills of those who seek its assistance. It covers various patient services and expenses, including laboratories, medicines, and surgeries.
“Sa Malasakit Center, hindi na pahirapan ang pagkuha ng tulong pampagamot mula sa gobyerno. Iisang kwarto nalang sa loob mismo ng ospital. Hindi niyo na kailangan pumila o mag-ikot sa iba’t ibang opisina. Ang mga ahensya na ang nandyan sa probinsya ninyo,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Go went on to recognize the local government officials and national agencies for their continuing service to their constituents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those present during the event, virtually or otherwise, were Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Governor Abdusakur Mahalail Tan, Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan, Jolo Mayor Kerkhar Tan and Vice Mayor Ezzeddin Tan, Hadji Panglima Tahil Mayor Mohammad Burahan, Kalingalan Caluang Mayor Nurshamier Halun, Omar Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon, Lugus Mayor Hadar Hajiri, Siasi Mayor Ben-Sayeed Muksan, Pata Mayor Abdurauf Burahan, Parang Mayor Omar Tingkahan, Old Panamao Mayor Al Frazier Abdurajak, Tapul Mayor Nasser Daud Jr., Pangutaran Mayor Asri Taib, and other officials and representatives from DOH, DSWD, PCSO and PhilHealth.
He then announced the government is investing P10 million for the construction of a new intensive care unit complex for the Sulu Provincial Hospital to improve the quality of care received by critically ill patients in the province.
After the activity, a total of 36 patients received food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields and other forms of assistance from the office of the Senator. The DSWD also provided financial assistance to the patients separately.
Go’s team also gave selected members of the hospital staff bicycles so they can easily commute to work despite limited transportation options. Others with children were given tablets to help them in their schoolwork under the blended learning set-up. Earlier in the day, the team also distributed various kinds of aid to 284 public market vendors in Jolo.
“Alam kong hindi tayo pababayaan ni Allah dito sa ating krisis na kinakaharap ngayon. Magtulungan tayo at magmalasakit tayo sa ating kapwa Pilipino. Magkaisa tayo para malalagpasan natin itong pandemyang ito,” said the Senator.
“Kami ni Pangulo Duterte, handa kaming magserbisyo sa inyong lahat d’yan sa Sulu dahil mahal namin kayo, mga kapatid naming Muslim,” he ended.