SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go personally attended the launch of the country’s 117th Malasakit Center at the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) in Quezon City on Friday, June 4. The POC, which specializes in musculoskeletal disorders and other related conditions, is the 23rd hospital in Metro Manila and eighth in Quezon City to open a Malasakit Center.
The other Malasakit Centers in QC are located in the East Avenue Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Novaliches District Hospital, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
In his speech, Go described the Malasakit Center as a product of a shared vision by him and President Rodrigo Duterte to give poor and low-income Filipinos the government assistance they need for the high costs of health and medical care.
“Ako po’y nagtrabaho kay Pangulong Duterte for more than 22 years. Nakita ko ang puso niya para sa mga kababayan natin, lalung-lalo na sa mga pasyenteng walang pambayad sa ospital,” he began.
“Minsan, may mga taga-Zamboanga at Surigao na pumupunta ng Davao City Hall para humingi ng tulong. Kung ikaw ay may puso para sa mga mahihirap, matitiis mo ba ang mga lumalapit sa’yo at nagmamakaawa, humihingi ng tulong? Sabi sa akin ni mayor, ‘Bong, hindi ko matiis na hindi tulungan ang mga iyan dahil para sa akin mga Pilipino pa rin sila,” he recounted.
As Special Assistant to the President, Go decided to open the pilot Malasakit Center at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City in 2018.
The center brought together the relevant government agencies from which patients may apply for medical assistance, namely the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
To institutionalize and enable its nationwide implementation, he, then, authored and pushed for the enactment of the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 in one of his first legislative acts as a newly elected senator in 2019.
Continuing his message during the launch, Go highlighted the important role played by frontline medical workers in ensuring the continued delivery of healthcare and medical services across the country especially amid a global health crisis. He commended them for their selfless service during this time.
“Sa mga frontliners dito, mula sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte, maraming salamat para sa sakripisyo ninyo. Alam namin na marami sa mga kasamahan niyo ang nagbuwis ng buhay, kaya plano ni Pangulo na gawan sila ng monumento sa Libingan ng mga Bayani bilang pagbibigay kilala sa sakripisyo nila,” he shared.
Meanwhile, Go reiterated his appeal to unvaccinated medical frontliners to get inoculated already so they can perform their duties safely. Concerned authorities, he added, have been ordered to speed up vaccinations in order to move on to the next priority groups for vaccine distribution.
“Sabi ni Pangulo, the best vaccine ay ‘yung nasa harap mo na mismo. Sana magtiwala kayo sa ating gobyerno dahil kailangan namin ang tulong niyo at ng bawat Pilipino,” said Go.
“Darating na sa Linggo ang bagong shipment ng mga bakuna. Talagang hinanapan natin ito ng pondo para mabayaran ito kaagad dahil ayaw ni Pangulo na ma-delay ‘to. Hopefully, by next week bubuksan na rin ang vaccine rollout sa A4 at A5 priority groups. Ito ‘yung mga ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’ dahil may mga pamilya rin silang pinapakain,” he explained.
Go assured that he will continue to fight for measures which will protect and promote the welfare of the medical community as well as enhance the capacities and capabilities of the national health system amid the ongoing crisis.
“Alam namin na napakahirap ng inyong trabaho kaya ipaglalaban ko ang kapakanan ninyo. Bukas ang aking opisina para makinig sa mga reklamo at hinaing niyo,” reassured Go.
“Patuloy ko rin na ipaglalaban ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap, lalung-lalo na sa larangan ng kalusugan. Noong mga nakaraang linggo, ipinaglaban ko ang mga hospital bills sa Senado dahil pumupunta ako sa mga ospital sa probinsya at nakikita kong nakahilera ‘yung mga kama sa corridor. Isipin niyo, 400% ang occupancy rate (sa ibang ospital sa probinsya)! Paano gagaling ang pasyente kung ganyan ang sitwasyon?” he asked.
After the launch, Go’s team distributed meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 1,528 medical frontliners. They also gave selected recipients new pairs of shoes or bicycles while others received computer tablets for their children’s educational needs.
Moreover, personnel from the DSWD also provided POC rank and file employees with financial assistance. The same assistance were likewise extended to 224 patients.
Go took the opportunity to recognize various officials for their untiring service amid the challenges of the pandemic. Among those present during the activity were 1st District Representative Anthony Crisologo, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, DOH Undersecretary Roger Tong-an, Assistant Secretary Girlie Veloso of the Office of President, DOH Asec. Charade Grande-Mercado and Asec. Elmer Punzalan, DSWD Usec. Aimee Torrefranca-Neri and Asec. Victor Neri, and Chief of Clinics Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.