SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go reminded the hospitals, laboratories, testing centers and other health facilities to follow the price cap for COVID-19 Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing imposed by the Department of Health and the Department of Trade Industry to ensure that it remains accessible to the public at a fair price.
“Pinapaalalahanan po natin ang mga hospital, laboratories, testing centers at iba pang health facilities na sumunod sa itinakdang price cap para sa RT-PCR testing at kung eligible po na ma-cover ng PhilHealth, dapat makapag-avail sila ng PhilHealth benefits,” said Go.
“Dapat tulungan natin ang ating mga kababayang naghihirap ngayon. Huwag hayaang may magsamantala sa kapwa. Dapat maayos, tutukan palagi at panatilihing abot-kaya ang testing sa bansa upang masiguro ang availability, affordability at accessibility nito,” he added.
Go emphasized the importance of ensuring the accessibility of testing to the people, citing its role as one of the major pillars of the government’s pandemic response and disease surveillance.
He noted that COVID-19 testing is a requirement for patients, close contacts and returning overseas Filipinos, among others. Due to this, he said that the testing has become a fundamental commodity and crucial component in the country’s recovery efforts.
“Dahil sa testing, nalalaman natin kung sino ang dapat i-isolate o nararapat bigyan ng karampatang medikal na atensyon. Importante ito dahil hindi natin nakikita ang kalaban,” stressed Go.
Go also reminded the public that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation also has its benefit package rates for COVID-19 RT-PCR testing. These testing benefits can be availed by close contacts of probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases in PhilHealth-accredited testing laboratories.
The senator then urged DOH and DTI to pursue violators and punish them in order to deter overpricing. He believes that this will be beneficial in protecting Filipinos from these predators.
“Those who would take advantage of others’ pain and profit from it must be punished. Hindi tama na pagkakitaan pa natin ang mga kababayan nating naghihirap dahil sa kasalukuyang pandemya. Huwag na nating dagdagan ang pasanin ng mga Pilipino,” said Go.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 118 in 2020, directing DOH and DTI to come up with and enforce a price range for RT-PCR testing. Pursuant thereto, DOH and DTI issued their Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2020-01 which sets the guidelines for the implementation of the EO and determines mechanisms for the review of the price range, implementation, and monitoring of compliance.
Furthermore, the senator encouraged DOH and DTI to regularly review the price cap to ensure that it stays fair and reasonable.
As of September 2021, price caps for RT-PCR tests were set by the DOH at P2,800 for plate-based and P2,450 for GeneXpert in public laboratories; and P3,360 for plate-based and P2,940 for GeneXpert in private laboratories.
“Patuloy po nating i-monitor at pag-aralan ang presyo ng testing para masiguro na angkop ito sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon ng bansa at nananatiling makatarungan ang presyo nito,” he advised.
Finally, Go urged the government to institute measures to ensure that all accredited COVID-19 laboratories observe transparency in the pricing of diagnostic testing.
“Kailangan din po nating siguruhin na fully informed ang mga Pilipino sa component costs ng medical services at procedures kaugnay sa COVID-19. Dapat alam nila kung para saan ang binabayaran nila at saan napupunta ang pera nila,” he remarked.
Bong Go aids solo parents in Cabuyao City, Laguna
IN an ongoing effort to help more vulnerable sectors adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go conducted a relief operation in Cabuyao City, Laguna for over a thousand solo parents.
Go’s staff organized the distribution, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Cabuyao. They grouped the 1,001 beneficiaries into smaller batches and enforced necessary safety and health protocols to safeguard everyone present from COVID-19.
They then handed out snacks and masks to each solo parent. The team also gave away computer tablets, bicycles and new pairs of shoes to select individuals.
On the other hand, representatives from DSWD extended livelihood support through its Sustainable Livelihood Program to the solo parents to help them start their own businesses that could sustain the needs of their families.
“Salamat po sa DSWD sa programa nilang pangkabuhayan. Sa pamamagitan ng programang ito, mabibigyan ang mga nangangailangan ng puhunan, tuturuang magnegosyo, at tutulungang palaguin ito,” Go said in his video message.
“Mas masarap nga naman ang pakiramdam kapag pinaghirapan at pinagpawisan ang pagnenegosyo sa tamang paraan. Dalhin ninyo ang kita sa inyong mga pamilya at gamitin ito nang tama para makaahon po tayo sa paghihirap na pinagdadaanan natin ngayon,” he added.
Understanding the hardships faced by solo parents in raising their families, the senator recognized their sacrifices and renewed his push for the passage of a bill which will amend the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 and allow the government to provide better support to single-parent households.
Filed in 2020, Senate Bill No. 1411, which Go co-authored and co-sponsored, mandates the development of a comprehensive package of social protection services for solo parents and their children that will include livelihood opportunities and counseling services. All employed solo parents will also be qualified to a seven-day parental leave with pay. The measure has already passed the third and final reading in the Senate on December 13.
Go also offered additional aid to those with medical concerns. He encouraged them to visit any of the two Malasakit Centers in the province, including Laguna Medical Center in Santa Cruz and San Pablo City General Hospital, where they may conveniently avail of medical assistance from the government.
Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2019, Republic Act No. 11463 mandates the establishment of Malasakit Centers in every DOH-run hospital nationwide and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila City. The measure was also principally authored and sponsored by Go in the Senate.
He then took the opportunity to urge the solo parents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as he stressed that vaccines would not only help protect themselves but also their families and community.
Go, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, likewise renewed his appeal for the public to remain vigilant and cooperative as he reassured that the government continues to balance the country’s economic and health interests.
“Kung mahal n’yo po ang inyong mga anak, kung mahal n’yo po ang inyong mga pamilya, magpabakuna na po kayo. ‘Yon po ang tanging susi sa ngayon para makabalik po tayo sa ating normal na pamumuhay,” Go said.