Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go went to Ilagan City in Isabela province on Wednesday, February 5, to join in the opening of the 62nd Malasakit Center in the country and witness the turnover of financial assistance from the Office of the President (OP) to typhoon victims and affected farmers of the province.
“Dito sa Malasakit Center, pinagsama-sama natin ang apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno,” Go said in his speech during the launch, referring to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The Malasakit Center, located inside the Gov. Faustino N. Dy, Sr. Memorial Hospital at Barangay Calamagui 2nd, serves as a one-stop shop for financial and medical assistance from the four agencies.
“Hindi na ninyo kailangang pumila sa iba’t ibang opisina. Palalagyan din natin ito ng express lane para sa senior citizens at persons with disabilities,” Go said.
The Senator added that the provincial government of Isabela also contributed funds to the Malasakit Center as additional assistance in case the four agencies cannot cover the entire bill of a patient. “Zero balance ang target ng Malasakit Center,” he explained.
The center covers patient services and expenses, such as laboratories, medicines, surgeries or operations, with the exemption of professional fees and private room accommodation.
The process of seeking assistance has also been simplified through the Malasakit Unified Form, which means that there is only one form to fill up for Filipinos requesting medical assistance.
“Tuloy-tuloy po ito sa lahat ng mga DOH-run hospitals dahil napirmahan na ni Pangulo ang Malasakit Center Act of 2019. Ayon po sa batas, 73 na DOH-run hospitals ay lalagyan ng Malasakit Center,” Go shared.
He added that in addition to the DOH-run hospitals and the Philippine General Hospital, the law also allows local government units (LGUs) to establish Malasakit Centers provided that they meet the standards and criteria to ensure sustainability and consistency in the services provided by the centers.
The Senator then proceeded to the Ilagan City Community Center on Saint Mark Street to attend the turnover of checks from the OP to the province, to its component city of Ilagan and to eighteen of its municipalities, which were affected by Typhoons Ramon, Rosita and Tisoy.
Also receiving assistance is Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province, affected by Typhoons Quiel and Ramon. All the typhoons made landfall in these areas in the last quarter of 2019.
During the turnover, the DSWD also conducted a ceremonial distribution of financial assistance to 35,000 typhoon-affected families, which were represented by fifteen families.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) also conducted a ceremonial turnover of farm equipment to farmers’ associations and one-time financial assistance to 1,000 farmers from Ilagan City and 732 farmers from the municipality of Jones.
In his speech, Go made a plea to communist rebels to engage in peace talks with the government. “Ayokong kapwa Pilipino nagpapatayan,” he said.
“Nagtiwala kami sa inyo. Ilang beses kaming umakyat ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa bundok sa Davao para kunin ang mga nabihag na sundalo at pulis. Walang bodyguard, walang baril, kami lang dalawa…Magtiwala lang tayo. Wala na kayong ibang Pangulo na sinserong makipag-usap sa inyo para magkaroon ng kapayapaan,” he added.
He also asked the people of Isabela to continue supporting the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, crimes and corruption.
Meanwhile, in an interview during his visit, Go emphasized the need for the establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR). “Nagkaroon na po kami ng pagdinig sa Senado tungkol dito. Sabi ko, importante na kapag may bagyo, earthquake o pagputok ng bulkan, may cabinet-level na opisyal na mamamahala,” he told reporters.
“Under sa kanya ang PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology), PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), Office of Civil Defense at iba pa. Mamamahala siya ng lahat at makikipag-coordinate sa iba pang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno,” he further explained.
The Senator filed in July last year Senate Bill No. 205 or the “Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019,” which proposes the creation of the DDR, “an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.”
“Magkakaroon na rin po ito ng regional offices kapag naging departamento,” Go added.
Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, also reiterated the need to track all the airplane passengers who were in the same flights as the two Chinese nationals who entered the country on January 21 and were confirmed to have the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD).
“Trabaho ‘yan ng (Bureau of) Immigration, ng PNP (Philippine National Police). Kaya nilang hanapin ‘yan. Sabi ko sa committee hearing kahapon sa Senado, dapat noon pa hinanap na ninyo kaagad,” Go said.
“That’s why they created the Inter-Agency Task Force, composed of officials of the DOH and other departments, para makipag-coordinate. Ni one percent po ay dapat walang makalusot dito. Di tayo pwedeng mag kompyansa o maging kampante dito,” the Senator warned.
He urged the public to remain calm and help government protect the country and its people from the virus.
“Sundin lang po ‘yung tama, ‘yung mga payo ng ating mga health authorities. Magtulungan na lang po tayo. Huwag na tayong magsisihan,” he added.