SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Saturday sympathized with and assisted victims of three separate fires in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog in Misamis Oriental, where a total of 85 families were affected and are currently staying in evacuation areas.
Go was also joined by concerned government agencies during the visit to provide additional aid to the victims.
“I have brought with me financial assistance for you, to lessen your sufferings. I want to leave a smile during your need. This is different from the assistance coming from the different agencies of government that I have asked to help,” he said.
Go added that he has coordinated with the National Housing Authority regarding possible relocation sites for those who lost their dwellings and to provide housing materials to those who need to rebuild or repair their houses.
The Department of Trade and Industry is also providing livelihood assistance to eligible victims.
As for jobs seekers, Go said that the Department of Labor and Employment is ready to assist them.
The Commission on Higher Education will also provide scholarships to those who want to study.
Go told students affected by the fires that he would help replace their lost uniforms, books and school supplies so that their schooling would not be disrupted.
The senator encouraged injured victims or those needing medical attention to avail of government medical assistance from any Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop office hosting concerned government agencies that provide medical financial assistance to those in need.
Currently, there are two operational Malasakit Centers in Cagayan de Oro City — one in Northern Mindanao Medical Center, which was opened in October last year; and another in JR Borja General Hospital launched on October 9 this year.
The senator’s desire to institutionalize the centers has also made significant strides in the legislative process.
Senate Bill 1076, or the Malasakit Center Act of 2019, which seeks to institutionalize the establishment of Malasakit Centers in all 73 hospitals run by the Department of Health (DoH), was recently approved on the third and final reading in the Senate on November 11.
It has also been approved on second reading in the House of Representatives on November 14 and is expected to be tackled for third and final reading next week.
Meanwhile, during a chance interview, Go was asked if it was possible to lower the price of medications, such as insulin in the country given the rising number of Filipinos with diabetes.
The senator responded, saying he supports the proposed expansion of the Maximum Drug Retail Prices (MDRP) list to ensure that cheaper medicines will be more available to the public.
Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, earlier expressed his support for the expansion of the MDRP during a regular session in the Senate where he reiterated that “healthcare is a right, not a commodity.”
During his manifestation of support, he said he would “suggest to President Rodrigo Duterte the inclusion of all essential medicines in the proposed list of expanded MDRP and for its immediate release to complement the Universal Health Care Law.”
Pursuant to the Cheaper Medicines Act, the DoH released in September an updated list of medicines for MDRP inclusion to be recommended to the Office of the President.
The list includes drugs addressing leading diseases in the country such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases and major cancers.
It also covers expensive treatments for chronic renal disease, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.