Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go distributed cash assistance and grocery packs on Friday, October 25, to victims of a fire that occurred at 12th Street to 18th Street of Barangay Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City, on Monday, October 21.
“Saad nako sa Pilipino, maski asa mo sa Pilipinas, basta kaya sa akong panahon ug kaya sa akong oras, adtoon gyud ta mo (I promised the Filipino people that, wherever you are in the Philippines, as long as my time permits, I will go to you),” Go said at the covered court of the barangay, where the 47 affected families, comprising 222 individuals, are temporarily staying.
The families also received financial assistance from key government agencies, such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
He added that the National Housing Authority (NHA) will provide housing materials assistance to the victims and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will help them in rebuilding their livelihood.
For the affected students, Go promised to buy them uniforms and school supplies.
“Upat lang mi ka adlaw sa Senado. Naa pay tulo ka adlaw—Biyernes, Sabado, Domingo. Dili ko gusto magpahuway. Gusto nako moadto gyud sa inyo. (We only work for four days in the Senate. There are three more days in a week-Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I don’t want to take a rest. I want to be with you),” the Senator explained.
“Wala na koy pangayoon pa sa Ginoo. Gihatag na niya ang tanan sa ako. Gihimo ko niyang Senador nga probinsiyano lang man intawon ko. Ihatag nako balik sa inyo ang serbisyo. (I have nothing more to ask from God. He has given me everything. He made me a Senator even though I am just from the province. So I will repay him by serving you),” he added.
He also encouraged the crowd to avail themselves of the services of the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop for medical financial assistance. Cagayan de Oro already has two Malasakit Centers, one in Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) and one in JR Borja General Hospital, which was launched just this month.
Go also offered help to those who are suffering from serious illnesses and need medical services that are not available in Cagayan de Oro. “Kung kinsa toy gusto magpaopera sa Manila o sa Davao, kanang kasingkasing, kidney, ako nay magpadala sa inyo didto, plete ug puy-anan ninyo hangtod makauli mo diri (Whoever needs to undergo a heart or kidney operation in Manila or Davao, I will take care of your fare and the place where you can stay until you can come back here),” he said.
In an interview after the event, Go assured the public that, as the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, he will make sure that the government will continue to provide quality and accessible medical services for all Filipinos.
Asked for a reaction to the recent statement of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III that there is underinvestment in health in the Philippines, Go said that he is looking into the matter closely.
“Ako pa ginabuhat ang committee report base sa amoang budget committee hearing sa health no. (I am still making the committee report based on the hearing that we conducted on the proposed 2020 budget). Ako, I am very much willing to help in improving the budget of the DOH. Tan-awon natog tarong, magkita mi karong Lunes, ang mga underspending nila nga opisina sa sulod sa Health. (We will report for work on Monday in the Senate. We will check the department’s offices that have underspending),” he said.
“Basta akoa dili ko mosugot nga maapektuhan ang health services sa tibuok Pilipinas (I assure the public that I will not allow the health services in the whole Philippines to be affected),” he said.
Go also shared that based on a meeting he initiated last Thursday between the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), both parties have committed to work together to reconcile unpaid claims and resolve issues between private hospitals and PhilHealth.
“Open ang linya ko para po maging tulay sa kanila. Thankfully, they have reached an agreement to work together to resolve their issues when they talked in front of me yesterday. Ang importante hindi maapektuhan ang serbisyo sa mga pasyente,” he said.
Go met with PHAPi President Rustico Jimenez and PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales at a private meeting where PhilHealth and PHAPI committed to work together in reconciling outstanding claims of private hospitals, as well as in cracking down on alleged fraudulent claims.
“Naiintindihan ko mga hospital na dapat sila mabayaran. Ang concern ko lang dapat hindi mapabayaan ang mga pasyente. Dapat hindi ma-hamper ang serbisyo,” Go said.
On the part of PhilHealth, they explained that the management wants to make sure the outstanding claims are not denied or fraudulent. They appealed for cooperation from private hospitals in order to settle outstanding accounts.
The leadership of PhilHealth also assured private hospitals that they are ready to hear their concerns. PhilHealth will have their regional officials sit down with the management of various hospitals to reconcile the claims. PhilHealth also noted that they will conduct quarterly regional “reach-out” forums wherein hospitals are invited to raise their issues and concerns.
Go, for his part, reiterated that it is important to ensure that funds of PhilHealth are not wasted and are utilized properly to benefit patients in need of medical attention.
“Abri na ang ilahang mga linya kung naay reklamo. So dili to tinuod nga mag-pull out sila sa PhilHealth. (Now their lines are open to complaints. So it’s not true that private hospitals will pull out from PhilHealth),” Go said.
After the visit in Cagayan de Oro, the Senator proceeded to Cebu City to provide similar assistance to the victims of a fire that occurred in Sitio Amor, Barangay Sambag 1, on October 19.