Senator Christopher “Bong” Go conducted a monitoring visit to one of the country’s 156 Malasakit Centers located at the Romblon Provincial Hospital in the town of Odiongan.
The center is a one-stop shop that houses representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to help financially incapacitated patients reduce their hospital expenses to the lowest amount possible.
A brainchild of Go, the Malasakit Centers program was institutionalized under Republic Act No. 11463, which he principally authored and sponsored in the Senate. To date, the 156 operational centers have helped more than seven million Filipinos nationwide according to the DOH.
“Nandirito po ako sa Romblon Provincial Hospital, tiningnan ko po ang inyong Malasakit Center. Isa lang po ang pakiusap ko sa inyo, huwag n’yo pong pababayaan ‘yung mga kababayan nating mahihirap, ‘yung mga helpless, hopeless, ‘yung walang matakbuhan kung hindi ito lang pong hospital ng gobyerno… Tulungan po natin sila,” urged Go, an adopted son of Romblon province.
During the visit, several officials accompanied the senator, including Romblon Governor Otik Riano, Odiongan Mayor Trina Fabic, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Marcus Lino Viola, and Medical Center Chief of Romblon Provincial Hospital Dr. Benedict Anatalio, among others.
“Full support po ako sa inyo lalung-lalo na sa pagsasaayos ng serbisyo medikal dito. Huwag lang po nating pababayaan ‘yung mga mahihirap. Sana maisalba natin ang buhay nila. ‘Yung iba kasi nasa malalayong lugar, ayaw magpaospital, ayaw magpa-checkup dahil takot po sa babayaran sa ospital. Tulungan natin sila. Doctors, salamat po sa inyong sakripisyo sa mga pasyente po. Nakasalalay po sa inyo ang buhay ng mga pasyente,” he continued.
Go and his team also provided meals, grocery packs, masks, vitamins, snacks, and shirts to 200 patients and 237 frontliners. They also gave away bicycles, cellular phones, shoes, watches, and balls for basketball and volleyball to select recipients. Meanwhile, the DSWD extended financial assistance to the patients.
Go also reaffirmed his commitment to push for more inclusive benefits and allowances for the country’s healthcare workers, recognizing their sacrifices, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Gusto ko munang pasalamatan ang lahat ng ating mga frontliners, sa inyong sakripisyo sa panahon ng pandemya. Hindi po nababayaran ng kahit ano po ang inyong sakripisyo. Hindi natin mararating ito kung hindi po dahil sa inyong sakripisyo. Kasama na diyan ang security guard, utility, doctor, nurses, lahat kayo. Hindi tayo magtitipon ngayon kung hindi po dahil sa inyo,” expressed Go.
“Rest assured po, kung ano pong makakatulong sa Romblon Provincial Hospital, tutulong po ako sa inyo bilang inyong Committee Chair po sa Senado. Ipaglalaban ko po kayo parati,” he vowed.
Go earlier successfully pushed for the passage of Republic Act No. 11712 which provides benefits and allowances to public and private healthcare workers during the state of public health emergency.
Public and private HCWs covered by the law are entitled to health emergency allowance (HEA) for every month of service during a state of public health emergency based on the risk categorization.
Meanwhile, Go also authored and co-sponsored RA 11466, or the Salary Standardization Law 5, in 2019 which gives civilian government employees, including nurses, their fifth round of salary increases broken down in tranches.
Apart from the Malasakit Center, Go personally attended the groundbreaking of the Super Health Center in Romblon town earlier on the same day.
The senator also supported the construction of more Super Health Centers in the province particularly in Calatrava, Magdiwang, San Andres, and San Jose.
The Super Health Center is a medium version of a polyclinic and an improved version of the rural health unit. The services offered in the center include database management, out-patient, birthing, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory: x-ray, ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit. Other available services are eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) service; oncology centers; physical therapy and rehabilitation center; and telemedicine, where remote diagnosis and treatment of patients will be done.
Through Go’s initiative and with the support of his fellow legislators, sufficient funds were allocated for the construction of some 307 Super Health Centers in 2022 and 322 more SHCs for the year 2023 under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program.
Meanwhile, as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go likewise supported the construction of several flood mitigation structures, rehabilitation of roads, repair of a multipurpose building, and acquisition of an ambulance unit, all for the town of Odiongan.
During the Duterte administration, Go likewise supported the procurement of medical equipment for another hospital in Romblon.
“Sana po ay napasaya namin kayo ngayong hapon na ito. Mayroon lang po akong paalala sa inyo, sana po ay maalala n’yo ito sa mahabang panahon: Minsan lang tayo dadaan sa mundong ito. Kung ano pong kabutihan o tulong na pwede natin gawin sa ating kapwa, gawin na po natin ngayon dahil hindi na po tayo babalik sa mundong ito,” said Go.
On the same day, Go joined in the founding and liberation anniversary celebrations of Romblon province and led the distribution of aid to its indigent residents. He also inspected the three-story building that was constructed and ambulance that was procured with his support.
Catherine R. Cueto