Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go witnessed the opening of the 46th Malasakit Center in the country on Friday, October 18, at the Novaliches District Hospital in Quezon City.
In a speech, Go said that the Malasakit Center is intended to bring the services of the government closer to Filipinos who are sick. “Tayo na po ang pumunta sa kanila at magbigay ng serbisyo sa kanila. Huwag po natin pahirapan ang mga pasyente,” he said.
Malasakit Center is an office where patients or their representatives can apply for financial assistance from concerned government agencies, namely, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
“Nasa isang bubong na po. Nandoon na po yung representative ng DOH, DSWD, PCSO, Philhealth,” Go explained.
He also shared why he proposed the establishment of Malasakit Centers to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Noong mayor pa po si Pangulong Duterte ng Davao City, maraming pumipila sa City Hall, humihingi ng tulong. Alam naman po natin na bawal yung pera ng isang siyudad gamitin sa hindi tagaroon. Halimbawa, sa Davao City, may mga taga-Surigao at taga-Bukidnon lalapit, hihingi ng tulong,” he said.
He added that Duterte would ask him to find ways to help the people. “Sinabihan niya ako, ‘Bong, bukas hindi na ako uupo dito sa City Hall kung ipagbabawal mo akong tulungan sila dahil para sa akin, Pilipino rin ang mga yan at humihingi ng tulong.’ Kaya noong naging Presidente siya, sabi ko, ‘Ano ba’ng puwede nating gawin na mapabilis ’yung serbisyo sa pagpapagamot?’”
The first Malasakit Center was launched at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu in February 2018, when Go was serving as the Special Assistant to the President.
Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas, currently leads the program. He was with Go, along with Quezon City officials, at the launch of the Malasakit Center in Novaliches.
Go also mentioned that a Malasakit Center has been opened before at the Lung Center of the Philippines, also in Quezon City.
In his speech, Go also expressed his support for health care professionals, especially nurses. He said that they are included in a bill that he filed in the Senate that seeks to modify the salary schedule for civilian government personnel.
“Don’t worry, isa po ito sa priority ni Pangulong Duterte, ’yung salary standardization,” he added.
He also congratulated the nurses for the recent ruling of the Supreme Court that their salary grade should be at 15, as stated in the 2002 Philippine Nursing Act, instead of at 10 to 11, as changed by Executive Order No. 811, s. 2009.
“Ang problema dito ngayon, ’yung pondo. Pag-uusapan pa natin. Panalo na kayo, so dapat hanapan talaga ng pondo ng gobyerno. Asahan niyo po, ako, sa abot ng aking makakaya, tutulungan ko kayo,” he said.
In an interview after the event, the Senator said that he will make sure that the DOH will receive the proper budget, after cuts in the department’s 2020 proposed budget raised worries that about 10,000 health workers might lose their jobs.
“Ang aking priority talaga ’yung health no. Inaprubahan kaagad natin ito sa level ng komite as chairman ng Committee on Health, but dadalhin pa ito sa plenary. Ipaglalaban ko po ito. Kung ano ang dapat ibalik sa kanila ay ibalik kung may pondo naman,” he said.
“Tinitingnan po minsan, may mga underspending diyan na mga opisina sa loob ng Department of Health, kaya po sila hindi binigyan ng ganitong budget. Hindi naman nila nagagamit, so kung talagang kailangan po, I will push for the restoration nitong budget,” he added.