Together with concerned agencies, Senator Bong Go joins the virtual launch of the country’s 134th Malasakit Center at the Talavera General Hospital in Talavera, Nueva Ecija on August 6. (Contributed photo)
MANILA (PNA) – As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go vowed to continue his pursuit for better access to healthcare for all Filipinos while helping government improve public service delivery amid the health crisis.
Together with concerned agencies, he joined the virtual launch of the country’s 134th Malasakit Center at the Talavera General Hospital in Talavera, Nueva Ecija on August 6.
This is the 12th Malasakit Center in Central Luzon and the third in Nueva Ecija, in addition to those at the Eduardo L. Joson Memorial Hospital and the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center, both in Cabanatuan City, which opened in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Recounting his experiences working with underprivileged patients in Davao City when President Rodrigo Duterte was still mayor, Go spoke of the need to address the financial hardships that patients face so they can receive needed medical attention.
“Nung mayor pa si (Pangulong Duterte), marami po ang lumalapit sa kanya sa (Davao) city hall na nanggagaling pa as far as General Santos, Zamboanga, o Surigao para humingi ng tulong sa kanilang pampa-ospital. Sabi ng (Commission on Audit), hindi daw pwede gamitin ang pera ng Davao City dahil hindi sila residente (When President Duterte was still mayor, people approached him coming from as far as General Santos, Zamboanga, and Surigao to ask for medical assistance. However, the Commission on Audit says Davao City funds can’t be used for non-residents),” Go said in his speech.
“Kaya doon ko nakita ‘yung puso ni Pangulong Duterte sa mga mahihirap. Dahil hindi n’ya po matiis na tanggihan itong mga pasyenteng ito, dahil para sa kanya, Pilipino rin po ang mga ito… sabi niya — hanapan mo ng paraan ‘yan. Hindi na ako uupo dito sa City Hall kung hindi ko sila matulungan. Doon ho nag-umpisa ‘yung konseptong Malasakit Center (That’s when I saw President Duterte’s heart for the poor. He can’t turn them away because they are still Filipinos so he told me to look for ways to help these people. That’s where the Malasakit Center was conceptualized),” he further narrated.
To address this, Go, in his first six months as Senator, principally authored and sponsored the bill that became Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.
The Malasakit Centers Act aims to make medical assistance programs more accessible by putting concerned agencies under one roof, including the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“Hindi niyo na kailangan pumila o umikot pa sa iba’t ibang opisina para humingi ng tulong pampagamot. Nasa isang kwarto sa loob ng ospital na po. Lapitan niyo lang, inyo po iyan. Ang Malasakit Center ay para sa mga poor at indigent patients (You don’t need to line up or go to different offices to ask for medical help. The Malasakit Center is in one room to help the poor and indigent patients),” he said.
“Pakiusap sa hospital management… huwag niyo pababayaan ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan, lalo ‘yung mga helpless, hopeless at walang matakbuhan… Lubusin niyo ang pera ng gobyerno para sa mga mahihirap. At kung may maitutulong ako sa inyong ospital, magsabi lang kayo (My appeal to hospital management is not to neglect our helpless and hopeless countrymen. Just me what you need in your facility and I would help in my own way),” he added.
Meanwhile, Go reminded eligible residents to get their Covid-19 vaccines so they will be better protected from the coronavirus.
“Importante na bakunado kayo para maiwasan niyo ang mga severe na sintomas ng sakit kung ma-infect man kayo. Kaya ‘wag kayo matakot sa bakuna. Matakot kayo sa Covid-19 dahil ito ang nakakamatay. Gaya ng sabi ng mga eksperto (Experts say), if you’re not protected against Covid-19, the virus will itself find you and infect you (It’s important that you’re vaccinated to prevent severe symptoms if you catch the virus. Don’t be scared of vaccination. Be scared of Covid-19 because it kills),” he said.
“Natutuwa akong ibalita sa inyo (I’m glad to report to you) that the country achieved a milestone yesterday where it administered 710,482 doses in just one day! Masaya kami ni Pangulong Duterte dahil marami na ang gustong magpabakuna kaysa noon (The President and I are happy because many now want to be vaccinated),” Go added.
This brings the total doses administered in the country to close to 23.2 million, of which more than 10.7 million individuals are already fully vaccinated while almost 12.5 million Filipinos have received their first dose as of August 5.
To help hospital staff overcome the challenges while they continue to fulfill their duties, the Senator’s team distributed meals, food packs, vitamins, masks, and face shields to a total of 364 medical front-liners as well as 39 indigent patients after the ceremony.
“Sa lahat po ng mga front-liners – sa lahat po ng mga doctors, nurses, medtechs… maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. Salamat po sa inyong sakripisyo sa panahon ngayon. Hindi po nababayaran ang inyong sakripisyo (To all the medical front-liners, thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices until now)” he said.
Some medical front-liners were also given shoes while others were provided bicycles. Select hospital workers also received computer tablets to help their children pursue their education.
The DSWD additionally handed out financial assistance to patients in need and 175 rank-and-file hospital employees, including janitors and security guards, in a separate distribution.
The ceremony was attended by 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, Talavera Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, and Medical Center Chief Dra. Maria Gallardo, among others.
As Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go has also supported the funding of numerous infrastructure projects to help boost economic opportunities in Nueva Ecija.
Among these include the improvements of various roads and bridges in Cabiao, General Tinio, Pantabangan, Zaragoza, and Cabanatuan City; construction of a reinforced bridge in Palayan City; improvement of flood mitigation structures in General Tinio, Quezon, San Antonio, and Zaragoza; improvement of the CLSU road network; among others.
Go likewise supported the construction of multi-purpose buildings in Gabaldon, Santa Rosa, and Cabanatuan City; construction of an evacuation center in General Mamerto Natividad; improvement of public markets in General Tinio and Sto. Domingo; and completion of the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City. (PR)