The 74th Malasakit Center was launched on July 8 at the Dr. Fernando B. Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital (formerly Sorsogon Provincial Hospital) in Sorsogon City, Sorsogon.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong’’ Go, who attended the inauguration via video conference, reiterated his commitment as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography to push for better healthcare services and increased access to medical and financial assistance all over the country.
The Malasakit Center in Sorsogon is the third in the Bicol region and 36th in Luzon. It is the third branch to open within the last seven days. Others which opened are the Romblon Provincial Hospital in Odiongan, Romblon and Aurora Memorial Hospital in Baler, Aurora. More centers are scheduled to be launched in the coming months.
“Napaka-importante po ng health care lalo na ngayon na may pandemya na dulot ng COVID-19. Kaya patuloy po ang ating trabaho upang mas mapaganda ang healthcare services sa kahit saan mang parte ng bansa at mas matulungan ang ating mga kababayan na nangangailangan ng pangpagamot (Health care is very important in the face of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. I continue with my work to make our healthcare care services in any part of the country relevant and to help our countrymen needing medical care),” Go stressed.
“Itong Malasakit Center po ay isang one-stop shop kung saan andun na ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na may mga programang medical assistance. Pera ninyo po ito, ibinabalik lang sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyong medikal (This Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where different government agencies with medical assistance programs have offices),” he added.
Go, the event’s guest speaker, began his speech with a brief description of his early life and career in public service in Davao City. His experiences serving as an assistant for then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had inspired the formation of the very first Malasakit Center.
According to Go, many people, often traveling from neighboring provinces, came to see the mayor to seek medical assistance.
“Nung mayor po siya ng Davao City, marami humihingi ng tulong (kay Pangulong Duterte) sa city hall. Parating sinasabi ng (Commission on Audit) na bawal gamitin ang pondo ng Davao City sa hindi residente (When he was the Davao City mayor, many asked for his (President Duterte’s) help at City Hall. But the Commission on Audit (CoA) advised him that it was illegal for him to spend city funds for non-residents),” Go recounted.
“Doon ko po nakita ang puso ni Mayor Duterte sa mga kababayan natin. Hawak niya ang bill ng pasyente. Tinapon niya sa akin. ‘Bong, hanapan mo ng paraan ito. Hindi ko matiis na umupo dito sa City Hall na hindi matutulungan ang mga kababayan natin dahil para sa akin Pilipino kahit hindi ka taga-Davao (That is where I saw the kindness to our countrymen of Mayor Duterte. He was holding the bill of the patient. He threw it at me and told me to find a solution to the problem. I could not sit idly by and not help our countrymen who need help because I consider them as Filipinos although they are not residents of Davao)’,” Go recalled.
“Pagkatapos sa city hall, pipipila ‘yan sa (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office or PCSO) sa Martes. Miyerkules pipila ‘yan sa (Department of Health or DoH), Huwebes sa (Department of Social Welfare and Development or DSWD), at Biyernes sa PhilHealth. Ubos ang panahon at pamasahe nila sa kakapila (After City Hall, they line up at the PCSO on Tuesday, line up at DoH on Wednesday, line up at DSWD on Thursday, and at PhilHealth on Friday. Their precious time is used while lining up and their fares are spent needlessly),” he further narrated the burden experienced by indigent patients prior to the establishment of the Malasakit Centers.
“Ngayon, dito nalang sila pupunta. Nasa isang kwarto sa ospital mismo, puwede na sila makakuha ng tulong mula gobyerno na kailangan nila pampagamot. “Hindi ninyo na po kailangan pumunta pa sa iba’t ibang opisina ng gobyerno para lang humingi ng tulong (Now, they only go to one center. At a hospital room are offices of government agencies that could help them solve their medical problems. You don’t need to go to the offices of various government agencies anymore),” Go said, referring to the Malasakit Center.
Go is the principal author and sponsor of the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, or Republic Act 11463, which was enacted into law late last year.