Bong Go

Bong Go: Learn from pandemic, invest in public health care

March 22, 2022 People's Journal 377 views

Bong GoSENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go personally conducted a monitoring visit at the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) in Quezon City on Monday, March 21, to emphasize the government’s commitment to a more inclusive, effective and efficient provision of public health services amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The EAMC is at the forefront of efforts to combat the pandemic, catering to both COVID-19 patients and Persons Under Investigation. Go witnessed the turnover of financial support amounting to PhP235 million from the Office of the President to the EAMC to upgrade its Medical Oxygen Generating System, among others, and also to assist underprivileged patients.

On the same day, OP also turned over PhP100 million each worth of funding to help patients at the National Children’s Hospital (NCH), National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), and Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), all in the same city, and National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) in Mandaluyong City.

“Now is the time to really invest in our healthcare system. Umaasa ako na ito ang huling pandemya sa ating buhay pero ang totoo hindi natin alam kung kailan dadating ang susunod. Kaya sa mga ospital, full support kami ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte sa mga pangangailangan ninyo basta ang makikinabang ay ang mga mahihirap,” assured Go.

In a speech delivered before the hospital staff, Go acknowledged that many Filipinos in rural and remote locations still lack access to essential health services. He pledged to continue pushing for legislation to expand the capacity of the health care system at all levels in his capacity as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health.

“Kakagaling ko lang sa Davao Occidental at ang pinakamalapit na general hospital doon ay 200 kilometers away, sa Davao City. Kung may emergency, hindi na aabot ang pasyente. Kaya tinulangan namin sila para sila ay makapagpatayo ng bagong ospital,” continued Go.

“Hindi ako titigil kahit matalo ako sa debate sa Senado. (Ipaglalaban ko ito) dahil alam ko ang mga mahihirap ang makikinabang sa mga batas gaya nito,” he added.

The Senate approved on the third and final reading 15 new local hospital bills sponsored by Go last January. Among these bills are those that aim to upgrade, increase the bed capacity or establish new hospitals in various provinces. The lawmaker successfully pushed for the enactment of 24 other similar bills in 2021.

The Senate Committee on Health which Go chairs is set to tackle more health related bills in a committee hearing this March 22.

Moving on, Go expressed his gratitude to all frontline health workers who are risking their lives every day on the job. He vowed to look after their interests, having recently pushed for the passage of a bill granting them additional COVID-19 benefits and allowances.

Authored and co-sponsored by Go, Senate Bill No. 2421 grants workers a monthly COVID-19 Risk Allowance for the duration of a State of National Health Emergency. It also stipulates the provision of additional compensation for those who contract COVID-19 while in the line of duty. The bill is set to be signed into law by President Duterte.

“Mula sa amin ng Pangulo, maraming salamat sa ating mga frontliners para sa sakripisyo niyo sa panahong ito. Pagpasok niyo sa ospital, nasa panganib na ang buhay ninyo. Kaya dapat walang pili ang tulong ng gobyerno. Ipaglalaban ko ang kapakanan ninyo bilang inyong chair ng Committee on Health sa Senado,” promised Go.

During the visit, the senator also checked on the operations of the EAMC’s Malasakit Center which he helped launch in March 2022. He authored the measure that became the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 with the aim of expanding access to medical-related aid from the government. The program has assisted at least three million financially incapacitated patients nationwide.

“Sa lahat ng mga Malasakit Centers, unahin natin ang mga mahihirap, ‘yung mga hopeless, helpless at walang matakbuhan. Isinulong ko ang batas na ‘to para hindi na sila mahirapan sa paghingi ng tulong mula sa gobyerno dahil sa totoo lang, pera naman nila ‘yan. Dapat ibalik ito sa mabilis na paraan,” emphasized Go.

“Pakiusap ko sa susunod na administrasyon, kung nakakatulong naman ang programang ito sa mga mahihirap, sana ipagpatuloy at dagdagan niyo ito. Walang pinipili ang Malasakit Center. Para ito sa mga poor at indigent patients,” he appealed.

To conclude, Go urged the public to continue cooperating in the fight against the pandemic. He praised the vaccination drive, which has so far administered about 140.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and inoculated 77% of the target population nationwide, as of March 20.

“Huwag tayong mag-alala at with your cooperation ay malapit na tayo makakabalik sa dati nating pamumuhay. Nakikiusap ako, magpabakuna na kayo kung mahal niyo ang mga frontliners at pamilya. Ang bakuna ang susi para maiwasan niyo ang grabeng pagkasakit dahil sa COVID-19,” said Go.

“Ang ganda ng takbo ng ating COVID response dahil disiplinado ang lahat. Huwag nating antayin na maging back-to-zero tayo. Napakahirap mag-umpisa muli at ayaw natin magsarado ang ekonomiya. Trabaho ang kailangan ng mga kababayan natin,” he stressed.

Finally, the senator recognized DOH Undersecretary Elmer Punzalan, DOH Usec. Roger Tong-an, DOH Usec. Charade Grande-Mercado, Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Visayas Usec. Jonjie Gonzales, DOH Assistant Secretary Francis Laxamana, DOH Director Girlie Veloso, and DSWD Dir. Katrina Ongoco for their untiring service.

He also thanked EAMC Medical Center Chief Dr. Alfonso Nuñez III, NCH Medical Chief Dr. Moriel Creencia, NKTI Executive Director Dr. Rose Rosete-Liquete, POC Medical Chief Dr. Jose Pujalte, Jr., and NCMH Medical Chief Dr. Noel Reyes, among others.

Meanwhile, Go’s team provided meals, food packs, vitamins and masks to 2,891 health workers and 945 indigent patients after his speech.

They also gave select health workers new shoes or bicycles for their daily commute and provided others with computer tablets to help their children with their school needs.

In a separate distribution, personnel from the DSWD handed out financial assistance to 1,442 rank-and-file employees of the hospital. Similar assistance was also extended to indigent patients.

“Malapit na matapos ang termino ni Pangulong Duterte. Binuhos niya, sinugal niya ang lahat para sa kinabukasan ng ating mga anak. Narinig ko kanina na may nagpapasalamat sa amin. Huwag kayong magpasalamat at kami ang nagpapasalamat sa inyo dahil binigyan niyo kami ng pagkakataon na maglingkod sa ating bayan,” said Go.

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