The 85th Malasakit Center was launched at the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City Friday (Oct 2).
The event was attended by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go along with Mandaluyong City Mayor Carmelita A. Abalos, Representative Neptali Gonzales II and other national and local government officials.
The center is the first of its kind in the city and the 16th in Metro Manila. It is a one-stop shop where indigent Filipino patients may conveniently apply for financial and medical assistance from the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
In his speech, Senator Go who chairs the Senate Committee on Health thanked Sec. Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Health Sec. Francisco Duque, DSWD USec. Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco B. Belgica, Mandaluyong City Mayor Carmelita A. Abalos, Representative Neptali Gonzales II and other attending officials for their support for the Malasakit Centers.
He encouraged all Filipinos to set politics aside and work together in solidarity while showing compassion to poor and vulnerable sectors in order to overcome the country’s current challenges and end the COVID-19 pandemic as a united nation.
“Alam kong hirap kayo dahil sa pandemya. Kami rin dito sa gobyerno hirap rin kami pero pagtulungan na lang po natin ito. Sino ba namang magtutulungan kundi tayo lang po kapwa natin Pilipino? Sabi nga ni Pangulo, parati kaming nag-uusap tuwing gabi, sabi niya ‘Bong, hayaan mo na ‘yan sila basta gawin lang natin, ang importante malampasan natin ito’,” said Go, referring to critics of the administration.
“Wala na kaming ibang hangarin kundi ang magserbisyo para malampasan natin itong pandemyang ito,” he added.
Go recalled his experiences working under then mayor Duterte which exposed him to the stressful and difficult process Filipinos went through just to seek government aid for their medical bills. These encounters moved him to conceptualize the one-stop shop which he promised to push during his senatorial campaign.
Republic Act 11463 (Malasakit Centers Act of 2019) authored and sponsored by Go, was signed into law by President Duterte on December 2019. The law mandates the establishment of the centers in every DOH-run hospital nationwide and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
Other public hospitals can also establish their own Malasakit Centers provided they meet the standard set of criteria and guarantee the availability of funds for the center’s operation.
Go promised to push for other relevant health-related bills, such as Senate Bill No. 1226 which expedites the process of increasing the number of hospital beds in DOH-run hospitals, and Senate Bill 1471 which provides Filipino workers with mental health conditions immediate access to the compensation benefits they are entitled to.
Go previously pushed for the passage of the Salary Standardization Law 5, a priority bill of his, which now increases the salaries of all government employees, including public sector nurses. He also fought for the inclusion of additional budget in the 2020 budget to provide for the salary upgrade of public nurses in Nurse I and II positions.
Go reassured patients in the hospitals that they would receive the maximum assistance the government could offer.
“Kapag may balanse pa po kayo, ang Malasakit Center ang babayad dahil ang target po ng Malasakit ay zero-balance kung maari po,” he promised. The DSWD also committed to provide additional assistance to select patients and their families upon completing their assessment.
Go also vowed to help DOH and Mandaluyong Rep. Gonzales who are presently pushing for the establishment of a new hospital in the city.