AS the election season nears, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said that he will consider and prioritize the continuity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy in supporting and selecting the country’s next leaders and has urged Filipinos to do the same.
“It has never been more crucial for every Filipino to participate in our democratic process as we prepare for our next elections. The good news is that we have time to evaluate and consider who will lead our country for the next six years,” said Go.
“If you ask me, when it comes to selecting our next leaders, I prioritize continuity. The Duterte Administration has raised the standard in terms of responsiveness to the needs of the Filipino people,” he added.
Go said the next leader must possess the same amount of political will as that of President Duterte to keep the momentum going in terms of government responsiveness amid the current pandemic.
Having worked for the President for more than two decades, Go said that he has witnessed how Duterte’s love for Filipinos helped him in making sound policy judgments. The Senator added that it has encouraged him to do the same, citing how he conceptualized the Malasakit Center in order to provide accessible medical assistance to struggling Filipinos.
“For one, it has exposed me to the stressful and demanding process Filipinos go through just to get government assistance for medical bills. Residents from neighboring provinces used to come to the Davao City Hall for medical assistance. The Commission on Audit, however, informed us that Davao City funds could not be used to assist residents from neighboring provinces,” Go recounted.
“But the President, who was the Davao City mayor at the time, could not bear to turn away fellow Filipinos seeking assistance in our province. These interactions inspired me to envision the one-stop shop for all medical-related assistance for our fellow Filipinos,” he added.
The Malasakit Center began as a convergence initiative of the Office of the President in 2018 in coordination with the Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas. The first center of its kind was established in Cebu. It brings together the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office under one roof.
Republic Act 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go authored and sponsored, was eventually signed by President Duterte in December 2019. It mandates the establishment of the centers in every DOH-run hospital nationwide and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
Other public hospitals can also establish their own Malasakit Centers provided they meet the standard set of criteria and guarantee the availability of funds for the center’s operation.
There are now 141 Malasakit Centers in the country since the program began in February 2018, with the latest opened on September 16 at the West Visayas State University Medical Center in Iloilo City.
Meanwhile, Go also recounted an unfortunate event when the helicopter he was riding on his way to the launch of the 135th Malasakit Center in Basilan General Hospital encountered issues.
“While it was a harrowing experience on my part, I can say that I am not afraid to die especially if it happens while doing something that can help save the lives of others,” said Go.
“It is an honor to die in service of the country and our fellow Filipinos,” he added.
Go then reassured that Duterte will continue to work hard to accomplish his plans for the benefit of the Filipino people as his term ends. He also urged Filipinos to clamor for continuity of the positive change initiated by the Duterte Administration.
“Programs and projects such as infrastructure development in the country through the “Build, Build, Build” program, law enforcement decreasing crime rate, achieving long-lasting peace and development in the countryside, and improving our health systems are just some of the achievements that our next leaders must sustain,” noted Go.
Go said that the country’s future leaders will need to exemplify the President’s vision and political will in order to continue the progress he began and in recovering from this pandemic toward delivering a truly comfortable life for all Filipinos.