SENATE Bill 1076, or “An Act Establishing Malasakit Centers in All Department of Health Hospitals,” proposed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, received enormous support from his fellow senators during the Senate regular session.
Manifesting their support for Go’s Malasakit Center bill are Senators Cynthia Villar, Manny Pacquiao, Sherwin Gatchalian, Sonny Angara, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Ronald dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Pacquiao called Malasakit Center Act “a measure for the poor” while Gatchalian said “it is a good mechanism to bring down national government services to all the way down to our constituents.”
Angara said he has seen firsthand how patients all the way from Maguindanao go to the Philippine General Hospital in Manila just to get assistance.
Lauding the measure, Revilla said it shows genuine compassion for the poor. “Ramdam po natin ang malasakit ng panukalang batas na ito sa mga mahihirap kaya I fully support this measure,” he added.
Meanwhile, Tolentino said even the Constitution mandates the protection of the health of Filipinos, adding it is the duty of lawmakers to push for laws such as the Malasakit Center Act that will uphold the principle.
Marcos also expressed her support by saying that “those who have less in life should have more in law.”
In a sponsorship speech during the session, Go emphasized his proposed measure will complement the recently passed Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in providing medical assistance and accessible healthcare to all Filipinos.
“Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11223 or the ‘Universal Health Care Act,’ in effect making all Filipino citizens members of the National Health Insurance Program or PhilHealth,” said Go.
“The UHC is expected to reform the country’s health system by improving our health (services) delivery, providing significant insurance benefits and coverage, and responding to the gap in health workers throughout the country,” Go added.
Despite the benefits of the UHC, Go noted that challenges remain for poor and indigent patients as the healthcare system undergoes transition under the said law.
“As we anticipate the changes that the UHC will bring to patient access and to individual health care, the challenge remains on how we can alleviate the financial burden of indigent and financially incapacitated patients and families who can only afford the health services of public hospitals,” Go said.
Go also clarified the centers act merely as one-stop shops for medical assistance and will not provide additional funds.
“We are not providing additional funds for assistance, we are merely establishing a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance. In Malasakit Centers, the concerned government agencies retain and run their own medical and financial assistance programs,” said Go.
“Ang kaibahan lamang, hindi na mahihirapan ang mga kababayan natin dahil sa iisang opisina na lamang sila pupunta para sa government assistance at hindi na po sila lalayo sa mga ospital para makakuha ng tulong,” he added.
Detailing his experiences as Special Assistant to the President when hundreds would line up in his office requesting for medical assistance, Go said this urged him to make healthcare more accessible to Filipinos, especially those in need.
“With this, Filipinos no longer have to endure long lines in different agencies to avail assistance,” Go added.
There are currently 42 Malasakit Centers nationwide serving 160,000 to 200,000 patients every month.
“Ibigay natin sa Pilipino ang mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyo, lalo na pagdating sa pangangailangang pangkalusugan. As I have said many times, pera nila ito, ibalik natin sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos, at maaasahang serbisyo mula sa gobyernong may malasakit,” Go stressed.