Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher “Bong” Go attended the virtual launch of the 78th Malasakit Center which opened on Tuesday, August 4, at the Rogaciano M. Mercado Memorial Hospital in Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
It is the second Malasakit Center in Bulacan and eighth in the Central Luzon region.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop that brings together the various government agencies from which patients can seek medical and financial assistance, namely the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
It may also facilitate access to said assistance provided by local government units, non-government organizations and private institutions and individuals. In his speech, the Senator expressed dismay over the controversies surrounding PhilHealth and vowed to go after those responsible for the alleged widespread corruption in the government-run health insurance agency.
“Bilang committee chair sa Health sa Senado, hindi po ako papayag na may masasayang ni piso. Kasi alam ninyo, ang PhilHealth, pera po ng tao ‘yan. Isipin ninyo ang mga overseas Filipino workers, nagre-remit po buwan buwan at nagbibigay ng kontribusyon diyan sa PhilHealth. Kaya nakakalungkot po na may balitang mayroong mafia, mayroong pong pumapasok na korapsyon diyan sa baba,” said Go.
“Asahan ninyo po na may makakasuhan kung may mapatunayang mayroong nagnanakaw, may nagloloko, mga fraudulent claims [at] mga pandarambong po sa pera ng tao. Hindi kami papayag. Sisiguraduhin ko po, kami ni Pangulo [Rodrigo Duterte], na makakasuhan sila. Heads will roll,” he warned.
The Senator also assured Filipinos from poor and vulnerable sectors that he will keep pushing for measures that can provide them with better access to affordable medicines that they need.
Go added that once a vaccine for COVID-19 is made available, he and the President will prioritize the poor and the vulnerable.
“Unahin dapat ‘yung mga mahihirap na nangangailangan ng vaccine pero walang kakayahan na makabili nito. Dapat siguraduhing maging available, accessible at affordable ito sa lahat. Dapat pantay-pantay. No one should be left behind,” he said.
While he admitted to the difficulty of balancing the issues concerning the economy and public health, Go maintained that there is nothing more important than protecting the health and safety of the people.
“Sa lahat ng desisyon ng gobyerno, inuuna po namin ang interes, kapakanan at buhay ng mga Pilipino,” he reiterated. He asked the general public to cooperate with the government by complying with the simple health and safety protocols of the DOH, such as the proper use of face masks.
He also disclosed that the government will distribute free face masks to the poorest of the poor.
“Paalala po sa mga kababayan natin, sundin ninyo po ang ating gobyerno. Kung maaari lang po, kung hindi importante, ‘wag muna kayo lumabas sa inyong mga pamamahay, lalong-lalo na po sa [modified enhance community quarantine] tayo. Maghugas ng kamay, magsuot po kayo ng face mask,” said Go The Senator went on to express his deep respect for the country’s hardworking frontliners to whom the nation owes a debt of gratitude for selflessly taking care of the sick while risking exposure to the deadly disease.
He pledged to continue pushing for measures that will protect and promote their welfare.
“The entire nation owes immense gratitude sa mga frontliners natin. Sila po ‘yung nag-aasikaso sa lahat na may sakit. Alam ko pong nahihirapan na kayo. Konting tiis lang po. Salamat sa inyong serbisyo. Nabanggit po ng ating Pangulo na talagang kayo naman po ang inaasahan ng Pilipino, mga frontliners, mga doctors and health workers,” said Go.
“Gagawin po namin ang lahat sa abot ng aming makakaya. Especially po sa mga health workers natin, suportado po namin kayo…lalong-lalo na ‘yung mga humihingi ng time-out. [Ginagawan namin ng paraan] na mabigyan sila ng suporta at ma-encourage pa sila magtrabaho dahil wala naman tayong ibang inaasahan kundi sila po…. Sila po ang nakakaalam kung ano po ang dapat gawin at magpapagaling sa mga pasyente kaya alagaan dapat natin sila,” he added.
Go also lauded the recent implementation of the Supreme Court decision to increase the minimum salary grade of public nurses.
Earlier this year, President Duterte signed the Salary Standardization Law 5, authored by Go, which also increased the salaries of government employees, including public nurses, in four tranches starting from 2020 until 2023.