SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go congratulated the people of Masbate province for the launch of the country’s 122nd Malasakit Center held at the Masbate Provincial Hospital in Masbate City, on Monday, June 28, which he personally attended as part of his continued commitment to improving access to and delivery of public health services.
This is the first Malasakit Center in the province and fourth in the Bicol region, in addition to those at the Dr. Fernando B. Duran, Sr. Memorial Hospital in Sorsogon City, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi City, and Bicol Medical Center in Naga City.
In his remarks, Go spoke of his untiring commitment for helping indigent patients which began when he was still working under then-mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City. There, he saw firsthand many of the barriers to healthcare experienced by patients living in rural and low-income communities.
“Hindi pa ako Senador, isinusulong ko na ang programang ito… Mayor pa si Pangulo ‘nun, nakita ko ‘yung hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga pasyente para lang humingi ng tulong mula sa city hall at mga ahensya ng gobyerno. Ubos na pera at panahon nila sa kakapila, mangungutang pa sila para sa balanseng naiwan,” said Go.
“Doon ko nakita ang puso niya para sa mahihirap. Maawain talaga ‘yan si Pangulo kahit noong mayor pa siya. Inatasan niya akong tulungan kahit ang mga hindi taga-Davao dahil hindi niya matiis na tanggihan ang kapwa niya Pilipino,” he continued.
Before serving in the Senate, Go initiated the first Malasakit Center in Cebu City in 2018 together with Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas. He then principally authored and sponsored the bill that became Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act when he became senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health which the President signed into law in December 2019.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where particularly poor and indigent patients may conveniently avail of the medical assistance programs offered by various government agencies. The partner agencies are the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“Sa mga kababayan natin dito, kayo na ang magbalita sa inyong kapitbahay kung ano ang Malasakit Center. Halimbawa may bill kayo sa ospital, puntahan niyo lang ito at nasa loob na ang mga ahensya na tutulong para mabayaran ang gamot, operasyon at iba pang gastusing pangkalusugan ninyo,” explained Go.
”Kung minsan, ‘di maiwasan na kulang ang tulong ng mga ahensya, may iniwang pondo din ang Office of the President para maging ‘zero balance’ o wala na kayong babayaran. ‘Yan ang attitude namin, kung ano ang available na funds ibinabalik namin sa tao kay ila man na kwarta. Ibalik natun sa ila what is due to them,” he added.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go asked the hospital staff members to continue caring for their poorest and most vulnerable patients, and offered his assistance to those in need of further medical attention. He pledged his untiring support to ensure the province has the resources it needs in order to overcome and recover from the ongoing crisis.
“Mahal ko ang mga taga-Masbate. Mga limang beses na akong nakabalik dito. Sa mga Bisaya dira, salamat kaayo sa inyo dahil binigyan niyo kami ng pagkakataon para makapagserbisyo. Bukas ang aming opisina bente-quatro oras para sa inyong lahat,” reassured Go.
“Kung kailangan niyo ng tulong tulad ng sa bakuna, willing akong pumagitna at tumulong para mapabilis sana ito. Ang importante, ‘wag tayo matakot dito. May pag-asa tayo. Ang bakuna ang susi para makabalik tayo sa dati nating pamumuhay,” he said.
On that note, Go thanked everyone for their continued support and cooperation in the government’s fight against COVID-19. He warned of the threat posed by the new Delta variant and asked everyone to maintain strict vigilance to prevent the further spread in the country.
“Gusto sana ni Pangulo Duterte itanggal ‘yung requirement para sa face shields pero nung pumutok itong Delta variant, nag-alinlangan siya.
This is four times more contagious than the other coronavirus variants. We cannot afford to allow the Delta variant to spread here dahil sayang ‘yung momentum natin sa pagbabakuna,” ended Go.
After the ceremony, the Senator’s team handed out meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 375 medical frontliners.
They gave selected recipients new shoes or bicycles for their daily commute or computer tablets for their children to use in school.
In addition, personnel from the DSWD distributed financial assistance to 246 rank-and-file employees. The same forms of aid were likewise extended to 105 patients.
“Nandito kami dahil na aksidente ‘yung tricycle na sinasakyan ng aking anak… Hirap man kami ang important ‘di kinuha ‘yung anak ko sa akin. Nagpasalamat ako sa Panginoon nung nalaman ko na may Malasakit Center dito. Ito ang unang beses na makakalapit kami sa Malasakit Center,” said Alfredo Domingo, 41.
“Nagdadasal ako na may magandang kalooban na tutulong sa amin para ma-operahan ang nabaling paa ng anak ko,” the beneficiary continued.
Go went on to thank various public officials for their efforts to improve the delivery of health services in Masbate. Among those present during the activity were Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chair Greco Belgica, 2nd District Representative Elisa Kho, 3rd District Rep. Wilton Kho, Governor Antonio Kho, Vice Governor Olga Kho, Mayor Rowena Tuason, and Chief of Hospital Dr. Luisito Co.
He also acknowledged 2nd District Board Members Jamon Espares, Allan Cos, and Rani Lauren Sia; 3rd District Board Members Jason Arevalo, Rafael Talisic, George Gonzales Jr., and Rudy Alvarez Jr.; and Association of Barangay Councils provincial federation President Rigel Sanchez, among others.
To facilitate Masbate City’s further development, Go has supported the funding for the concreting of the Junction National Road to the Masbate Institute of Fisheries and Technology; and the construction of a flood control system along the Usab River and Lumbang River; a river control system in Tinapian River; an access road leading to Masbate City Port; and a second District Engineering Office building for DPWH Masbate.
After the ceremony, Go witnessed the inauguration of the new MV Masbate City of the Kho Shipping Lines.