100th Malasakit Center opens in Muntinlupa

Published February 3, 2021, 12:16 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go led the launching of the 100th Malasakit Center at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go (left) at the launching of the 100th Malasakit Center at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.
(Sen. Go’s Facebook account/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Malasakit Center at the RITM is the 12th center in Metro Manila and 54th in Luzon. 

In his speech, Go recalled how hard it was for many Filipinos to receive basic healthcare services when he was still an aide to then mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte.

“Maraming mga taga-Surigao, Zamboanga, at iba’t ibang probinsya noon ang pumupunta sa Davao City para humingi ng tulong pampa-ospital. Gusto niya man tulungan, hindi raw pwede gastusin ang pera ng Davao para sa mga hindi taga-Davao,” Go said.

He narrated, “Sabi sa akin ng Presidente, ‘Bong, hanapan mo ng paraan dahil kahit taga-saan ‘yan, Pilipino pa rin ang mga ‘yan. Kung ‘di naman natin sila matutulungan, ‘wag na tayong mag-report dito’. Talagang nagdurugo ang puso niya.”

“Bakit kailangang magmakaawa ng ating kapwa Pilipino? Kaya noong naging Pangulo siya, sabi ko, ano bang konsepto ang pwede nating gawin para sa ating mga kababayan?” the senator added.

During his time as the Special Assistant to the President, Go oversaw the establishment of the pilot Malasakit Center at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City on Feb. 22, 2018, in coordination with the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas and partner agencies. 

When he became a senator in 2019, Go authored and sponsored the passage of a bill to institutionalize the initiative and improve access to medical assistance for more Filipinos. 

The Malasakit Center brings together concerned national agencies from which patients may apply for aid under one roof. These are the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. 

“Ang Malasakit Center ay para sa ating mga mahihirap na kababayan. ‘Yung mga walang ibang mapuntahan, lapitan niyo ang Malasakit Center at tutulungan kayo ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno. Kung may balanse pa, babayaran ito ng pondong iniwan ng Office of the President at DOH,” said Go.

He added that with the Malasakit Center, Filipinos no longer have to line up and go to different offices.  

“Kaya sa mga opisyal ng ospital, pakiusap,huwag niyong talikuran ‘yung pinakamahihirap nating kababayan,” he said.

President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11463, the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019,” on Dec. 3, 2019, which mandates the establishment of a Malasakit Center in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila and every DOH-run hospital in the country. 

Other public hospitals may also establish their own Malasakit Center provided they meet the set criteria needed for its operation. To date, there are 54 centers in Luzon, 22 in the Visayas, and 24 in Mindanao. 

Of these, 58 are local government unit-run hospitals while 40 are DOH-retained hospitals. One is run by a state university while another one is operated by the Department of National Defense.

Go said more than 1.8 million patients have been assisted by Malasakit Centers throughout the country and explained why he chose RITM as the next location for the center.  

“Noong 2019 [budget deliberation for 2020 budget], nabawasan ng P80 million pesos ang budget ng RITM. Bilang Committee Chairperson on Health, hindi ako pumayag at pinadagdagan ko ng P105 million ang budget sa 2020 at dinagdagan pa natin ngayong 2021 ng P170 million!” he said. 

He added, “Akalain mo ba naman sa lahat ng opisina ang babawasan ng budget ay RITM pa? Hindi natin akalain na RITM ang mangunguna sa kampanya laban sa COVID-19. Kung anuman ang maitutulong natin lalo na sa kalusugan ay handa akong makipagtulungan.” 

Go thanked individuals who supported the Malasakit Center initiative and contributed to its continuing success. Among them were Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, PCSO General Manager Royina Garma, PhilHealth President Dante Gierran as represented by acting Senior Vice President Dr. Leo Cardona Jr., and RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos. 

 
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