Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go on Wednesday led the opening of the first “Malasakit Center” in Metro Manila.
The center is a program of the Duterte administration aimed at serving as a one-stop shop to hasten the delivery of medical services and give poor patients access to free medicines.
During its launch at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, the top presidential aide urged patients and their families to avail of the program, which aims to help beneficiaries have a “zero balance” on their medical expenses. It will prioritize senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
The government, Go said, has allocated a PHP100-million replenishable fund.
“Ang funds po ni President Duterte, yun po ang magpapa-zero balance sa billing, funds po ito, inyo po ito hindi po namin inaangkin ito na pera namin, pera po ito ng gobyerno na binabalik lang po ni Pangulong Duterte sa inyo, ayusin lang po natin ang paggamit ng perang ito(The funds from President Duterte will help in getting a zero balance billing. These are your funds. We are not claiming these as ours. These are government funds which President Duterte returns to you. Let’s just properly use these funds),” Go said.
“Sa mga pasyente po iavail nyo ito, pera nyo po ito kapag naubos dadagdagan ulit (To our dear patients, avail of these funds. These are yours and if it depletes, we will replenish it),” he added.
The launch in Manila brings to five the total number of Malasakit Centers in the Philippines. Of the five, three are in the Visayas — one at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Center in Cebu City, another at the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City, and one at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City. Davao City in Mindanao has one center.
The government is set to launch two more Malasakit Centers in Maasin in Southern Leyte and Dumaguete in Negros Oriental.
Under the program, patients are assisted in availing themselves of the services and financial assistance provided by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the Philippine Amusement and Games Corporation (PAGCOR), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Also present during the launch are Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and PGH officials headed by Dr. Gerardo Legazpi among others.
Unfazed by tirades
Meanwhile, Go said he has never been involved in corruption in government, adding that corruption claims against him are mere “politically motivated attacks.”
“Hindi pa po ako ipinapanganak, nandiyan na po ang negosyo ng pamilya ko. Ang importante, meron ba akong pinakialaman? Meron ba akong ginalaw? Wala (Even before I was born, our family already runs that business. The important question is did I get involved? Did I interfere on something? I did not),” he said in an interview.
“Another bloated na naman na storya kasi ganun ‘yun eh ‘pag political season. Panahon na eh, siraan na (It’s another bloated story which comes out during political season. It’s that time again. Time for mudslinging). It’s politically motivated,” the government official added.
Go explained that while he can’t keep his family from doing business, he has never used his political influence to help the said family-owned CLTG Builders and Alfrego Builders thrive.
“Biruin mo, for 15 years pinagbawalan ko ang pamilya ko na pumasok sa City Hall. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Kung papasok kayo sa City Hall, ako ang aalis (Can you imagine, I prohibited my family from entering the City Hall. I told them that once they enter the City Hall, I will leave),” he said.
“Kahit nga ngayon na pwede kong gamitin ang impluwensiya ng ating Pangulo, hindi ko ginawa (Even now, I can use the President’s influence but I did not do it). That’s because I observe delicadeza,” Go added.
He said he is ready to face a hearing at any time to speak “the truth.”
“Bukas kaagad, para magkaalaman na kung sino ang nagsisinungaling (I can face them even as early as tomorrow. So that we would know who are the liars here),” Go added. (PNA)