By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reaffirmed his commitment to
protecting Filipinos’ right to access health care services with the
launch of the country’s 121st Malasakit Center held virtually at the
Bontoc General Hospital in Bontoc capital town, Mountain Province on
Friday, June 25.
The BGH is the sixth hospital in the Cordillera Administrative Region
and the second in the province to formally open its own Malasakit Center.
The same center is also found at the Luis Hora Memorial Regional
Hospital in Barangay Abatan, Bauko which was launched last May 7.
“Pasensya po at gusto ko sanang dumalo diyan pero naging delikado ang
panahon. Ayaw ko naman ipagpaliban ang pagbubukas nito dahil marami
ang nangangailangan ng tulong. Lalo na ngayong may pandemya, maraming
pasyente ang gustong makahingi ng tulong mula sa gobyerno para sa
kanilang pampagamot,” Go started in his virtual speech.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop that brings together under
one roof the agencies which offer medical assistance programs,
including the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and
Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine
Charity Sweepstakes Office.
During his stint as Special Assistant to the President, Go opened the
pioneering Malasakit Center at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical
Center in Cebu City in 2018 with the aim of expanding access to health
care for particularly poor and financially incapacitated patients.
He then authored and sponsored the measure that became Republic Act
No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, upon
winning a seat in the Senate.
The Act mandates all DOH-run hospitals to establish their own
Malasakit Center. Other public hospitals, including those run by local
government units may also open their own provided they meet a
standard set of criteria to ensure the sustainability of its
“Ipinangako kong isasabatas ko ‘to para kahit wala na kami ni
Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte sa gobyerno ay tuloy-tuloy ito. Kung
nakakatulong lang naman ‘to sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan,
pakiusap ko sa susunod na administrasyon na sana ay patuloy nila itong
suportahan,” continued Go.
“Wala ‘tong pinipili. Basta Pilipino at poor o indigent patient ka,
qualified ka sa Malasakit Center. Kung tatanggihan kayo, sabihin niyo,
‘karapatan ko ito bilang Pilipino’. Pera niyo ito na binabalik lang
namin sa pamamagitan ng maayos na serbisyo,” he added.
The Senator, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, promised to
continue fighting for better health care for all, especially those in
low-income, far flung and rural communities.
The previous day, June 24, President Duterte signed into law 13
measures that seem to improve the capacity of various hospitals to
provide quality care in their respective localities. The bills, which
Go sponsored, will increase the bed capacities, upgrade the facilities
and establish new hospitals specifically in various parts of the
“Bukas ang opisina namin ni Pangulo kung may gusto kayong hingin na
tulong. Hindi kami mangangako ng hindi namin kaya pero gagawin namin
ang lahat para tulungan kayo. Lalo na nasa gitna tayo ng krisis,
panahon ito para magmalasakit sa ating kapwa,” he said.
“Please continue to cooperate with the government para ma-achieve
natin ang herd immunity… Pakiusap sa mga miyembro ng eligible na
priority groups, magpabakuna na kayo kung mahal niyo ang pamilya at
anak niyo. Kailangan protektado kayo para makabalik na tayo sa dati
nating pamumuhay,” ended Go.
Following the ceremony, Go’s personnel handed out meals, food packs,
vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 261 frontline health
workers. They also gave selected recipients new shoes or bicycles for
their daily commuting needs, while others received computer tablets
for their children’s school activities.
Additionally, a team from the DSWD provided 201 rank-and-file
employees with financial assistance. The same forms of aid were
likewise extended to 51 indigent patients.
“Napanood namin sa telebisyon na tinutulungan daw ng Malasakit Center
ang may mga sakit. Hindi ako nahirapan humingi ng tulong. Naging
madali ‘yung proseso. Hindi ka pabalik-balik at hindi marami ang
requirements. Sobrang laking tulong niya kasi wala akong binayaran sa
pag-oospital ko,” said Jonalina Galate, a patient.
“Maraming salamat sa Malasakit Center para sa assistance. Maraming
salamat rin sa founder ng programa na si Senator Bong Go. More power
to you, sir! Sana marami pa kayong matulungan na katulad ko,” she
The Senator went on to express his gratitude to various officials for
their assistance and efforts to improve the delivery of health
services in Bontoc. He specifically thanked Secretary Michael Lloyd
Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas,
Assistant Secretary Girlie Veloso of the Office of the President,
Representative Maximo Dalog, Jr., Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr.,
Vice Governor Francis Tauli, and Mayor Frankline Odsey.
Go also recognized Provincial Board Members Henry Bastian, Donato
Danglose, Salvador Dalang, Randy Awisan, Joshua Fronda, Janice
Barillo, Federico Onsat and Andrie Claver; Philippine Councilors
League President Ashley Sili; Indigenous People Mandatory
Representative Tomas Tawagen; Liga ng mga Barangay President Alfonso
Ligos, Jr.; and Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President Jazzel
Masidong, among others.
To help facilitate the development of Mountain Province, Go has
supported the funding of various infrastructure projects. The projects
include the improvement of the Sadsadan – Bacalinao – Salin Access
Road in Besao, Cotcot Road in Bauko and Masla -Wakes farm-to-market
road in Tadian; construction of a flood control structure in Chico
River in Barangay Monamon Norte, Bauko; construction of a
multi-purpose building in Paracelis and Sadanga; and installation of
solar lights in strategic areas in Sabangan, among others. (ai/mtvn)