SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, attended the launch of the 101st Malasakit Center at the Governor Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte on Monday.
The Malasakit Center is the fourth in the Ilocos Region with the others being at the Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan City, Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City and Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City, La Union.
With this, all four provinces in Region 1 (Ilocos Region) now have their own Malasakit Centers.
In his speech, Go vowed to push for measures that can ensure accessible quality healthcare for all.
Being the chairman of the health and demography committee, the senator cited that advancing health services must coincide with the campaign against corruption.
He explained that systemic corruption, particularly in the public-health sector, cripples public service delivery.
“Kami po ni Sen. Imee Marcos, lalabanan namin ang korapsyon sa PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp). Naiintindihan namin na may iilan lang na talagang corrupt diyan at mas marami talaga ang matitinong empleyado na gustong magserbisyo ng buong katapatan (Together, Sen. Imee Marcos and I will fight corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. We understand that there are only a few who are truly corrupt, and the majority are upright employees, who want to serve faithfully),” he said.
Before the inauguration of the Malasakit Center, Go met with Marcos, who was the former governor of Ilocos Norte.
“Hindi kami titigil ni Presidente [Rodrigo] Duterte na labanan ‘yan dahil hindi aasenso ang bansa hanggang hindi natatanggal sa pwesto ang mga corrupt (President Rodrigo Duterte and I will not stop fighting corruption because our country will not progress until we have removed the corrupt from government posts),” the senator said.
To ensure Filipinos have access to quality healthcare in a cost-effective and timely manner, Go authored and sponsored the measure that became Republic Act 11463 or the “Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.”
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop that streamlines medical assistance programs of various government agencies in order that patients, particularly the poor and indigent, can conveniently avail of such services.
Among these agencies are the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), PhilHealth and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
The law directs all hospitals run by the DoH and the Philippine General Hospital to have its own Malasakit Center.
Other public hospitals can also establish Malasakit Centers provided these meet a set of criteria that would ensure sustainability of its operations.
Speaking to those in attendance, the senator offered to assist any resident, who was in need of medical attention.
He also pledged to help cover the costs of necessary medical treatments that were unavailable in the province.
In his speech, Go took time to thank the many individuals who supported the Malasakit Centers program and contributed to its continuing success.
These included chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Gov. Matthew Joseph Manotoc, Vice Gov. Cecilia Marcos, Laoag City Mayor Michael Keon and Vice Mayor Vicentito Lazo, Batac City Mayor Albert Chua and Bangui Mayor Fidel Cimatu.
After the event, Go’s team distributed meals, food packs, vitamins, face masks and face shields to a total of 73 patients at the hospital.
Select hospital staff members were also given new shoes or bicycles.
Others received computer tablets for their children’s educational needs.
Meanwhile, representatives from the DSWD separately distributed financial assistance to patients and hospital staff.
On the same day, the senator proceeded to the Centennial Complex where his team distributed similar aid to 490 beneficiaries, composed of tricycle and kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) drivers.