By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — During the virtual launch of the country’s 133rd Malasakit Center at
the Eastern Bicol Medical Center in Virac, Catanduanes recently,
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged Filipinos with health
concerns not to delay seeking medical care when needed especially amid
an ongoing health crisis.
The newest Malasakit Center is the first in the province and seventh
in the Bicol Region, after the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital in
Daet; Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center in
Cabusao, Camarines Sur; Dr. Fernando B. Duran, Sr. Memorial Hospital
in Sorsogon City; Masbate Provincial Hospital in Masbate City; Bicol
Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi City; and Bicol
Medical Center in Naga City.
“Pumunta ako diyan (sa Catanduanes) nung tinamaan kayo ng bagyo nitong
mga nakalipas na buwan. Gaya ng ipinangako ko, patuloy na umiikot ang
aking staff para magbigay ng tulong sa mga nasalanta. Tinupad ko din
ang ipinangako kong Malasakit Center para sa inyung bayan, lalo na
marami ang nangangailan ng tulong medical sa panahong ito,” Go began
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop that aims to provide
convenient access to the medical assistance programs of the government
so that poor and indigent persons can avail themselves the treatments and
medications they need without worrying about the expenses.
To do this, the center brings together the relevant agencies under its
roof, namely the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare
and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“By establishing the Malasakit Centers all over the country, we have
leveled the playing field and provided our less fortunate countrymen
the medical care they deserve. Hindi na kailangan lumapit o humingi ng
tulong sa iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno. Ang gobyerno na ang
lumalapit sa tao,” said President Rodrigo Duterte in his last State of
the Nation Address.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go warned Filipinos with
urgent health concerns against not seeking medical care due to fears
of added expenses. He underscored the importance of acting quickly on
any adverse symptom that one might have as it could make a huge
difference on their overall well-being.
“Kung may nararamdaman kayong sakit sa puso o ano man, ‘wag niyo nang
patagalin pa. Kadalasan ayaw ng mga Pilipino magpa-check up dahil baka
malaki ang gastusin sa ospital. Alam ko kung gaano ka hirap maging
mahirap pero hindi niyo na kailangang magmakaawa para makahingi ng
tulong sa ating gobyerno,” continued Go.
“At kung may pasyente na hindi kayang operahan diyan ay tutulungan po
namin kayo makapunta dito sa Maynila. Kami na ni Pangulong (Rodrigo)
Duterte ang sasalo sa pampa-ospital niyo pati pamasahe hanggang
makauwi kayo. Importante sa amin ang makasalba tayo ng buhay ng ating
mga kababayan,” he said.
Go recognized Representative Hector Sanchez and Talino at Galing ng
Pinoy Party List Rep. Jose “Bong” Teves Jr. during his speech and
thanked them for their support of the measure that became Republic Act
No. 11463. The Act, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers
program, was principally authored and sponsored by Go in the Senate
and signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 3, 2019.
With the COVID-19 crisis disrupting lives and livelihoods across the
country, the Senator committed to supporting the people of Catanduanes as
they try to recover from the economic downturn and the lingering
effects of various crises.
“Isa lang ang layunin natin at ito ay ang matulungan ang mga kababayan
nating mahihirap. Magkasama tayong magtatrabaho para maiahon ang mga
kababayan natin diyan sa Catanduanes na hirap ngayon dahil sa
pandemya at dumaang bagyo. Patuloy kaming tutulong sa inyo sa abot ng
aming makakaya. Bukas po ang aming opisina ni Pangulong Duterte para
sa inyo,” promised Go.
In the end, he appealed for everyone’s continued discipline and
cooperation to avoid prolonged restrictions as this would have
significant repercussions on the economy. Go assured, however, that
the government would look after the welfare of the most vulnerable
groups affected by the restrictions.
“Mga kababayan, sa lahat ng mga hakbang natin, ang pangunahing
konsiderasyon palagi ang buhay at kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino.
Napakahirap magsara ng ekonomiya dahil marami ang mawawalan ng trabaho
at magsasara na negosyo. Ang tinatamaan rito ay ang mga mahihirap,
‘yung mga ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’,” said Go.
”Magtulungan tayo at kung nandiyan ang pondo sa ayuda ay siguraduhin
din nating makakarating ito sa tunay na mga benepisyaryo,” he
The Senator’s staff went on to distribute meals, food packs, vitamins,
masks, and face shields to a total of 307 medical frontliners and 101
patients after the ceremony.
Selected frontliners were given bicycles
while others received new pairs of shoes. Some were also provided
computer tablets for their children’s education.
In addition, personnel from the DSWD handed out financial assistance
to poor patients and 230 rank-and-file employees in a separate
The ceremony was also attended by Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the
Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Assistant
Secretary Girlie Veloso of the Office of President, Governor Joseph
Cua, Vice Governor Shirley Abundo, Rep. Sanchez, Rep. Teves, Virac
Mayor Posoy Sarmiento, San Andres Mayor Peter Cua, Caramoan Mayor
Glenda Aguilar, San Miguel Mayor Francisco Camano, Viga Mayor Bong
Tarin, Pandan Mayor Honesto Tabligan, Bato Mayor Johnny Rodulfo, and
Medical Center Chief Dra. Vietriz Abella.
Before the said launch, the Senator’s team had provided relief to 336
internally displaced persons from Virac, Bato, and San Andres towns at
the Virac Plaza covered court. The activity was held in batches to
ensure strict compliance with the health and safety protocols against
As Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go also supported
the funding of various infrastructure projects in Catanduanes such as
the construction or improvement of various roads; rehabilitation of
the water supply pipelines; and construction of sewage treatment
facilities in Virac.
He also supported the construction of a provincial integrated
transport terminal and business complex for Catanduanes; construction
of a flood control structure and seawalls in San Andres; and
reconstruction of the municipal multi-purpose building in San Miguel. (ai/mtvn)