Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Saturday said improving the healthcare system in the country remains a top priority of the Duterte administration.
“Priority natin sila. Itong Malasakit Center ay para sa mga nangangailangan ng gamot. Pera ito ng gobyerno na amin lamang ibinabalik sa inyo (They are our priority. These Malasakit Centers are for you. This is your money, the government is just giving it back to you),” Go said in an ambush interview at the launch of the Malasakit Center in Maasin City, Southern Leyte.
With the opening of Malasakit Center at the Southern Leyte Provincial Hospital, Go said, the people of Samar and Leyte need not worry about finding money to pay for their medical needs
“Nakita natin ngayon na nagkakasakit tayo, hindi natin alam kung saan tayo papunta. Makita lang nila ang Malasakit Center tuturuan lang sila kung ano ang dapat nilang gawin (When we get sick we usually don’t know where to go for help. But now with the Malasakit Center, they will be taught what to do),” he said.
“It’s a one-stop shop po para sa mga kapatid natin dito sa Samar-Leyte para mabilis at isang opisina na lang ang kanilang lalapitan, hindi na sila pinapasa-pasa (The Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop for our brothers and sisters here in Samar and Leyte. The service is fast because people only need to go to one office. They will not be passed around from one office to another),” he added.
Right after the launch in Maasin City, Duterte’s closest aide went straight to the launching of the Malasakit Center in the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital, Dumaguete City.
Go said ambulance services will also be provided for free in Negros Oriental Malasakit Center.
“Mayroon ako inilagay na ambulansya para sa pasyente na malalayo ang lugar dito sa Negros Oriental. Libre lang susunduin lang kayo doon para hindi na kayo saan saan lumalapit. Inyo yan para yan sa inyo (I placed an ambulance for patients who are far from Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital. This is for free. The ambulance will pick you up so that there is no need to worry who to ask for help. This is for you),” he said.
He added the funds allocated for the Malasakit Centers is replenishable. He assured the public that once the hospitals submit their liquidation, the funds will be replenished for the continuous service of the Malasakit Centers.
“Five million pesos po ito. Kapag naubos na ulit ito, i-liquidate nila ito para malagyan ulit (Five million pesos was allocated for this. Once the funds run out, they will be replenished upon liquidation by the hospital),” he said.
Duterte’s top aide has been instrumental in putting up Malasakit Centers throughout the country.
There are currently eight cities with existing centers nationwide — Cebu, Tacloban, Iloilo, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, Maasin and Dumaguete.
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), Department of Health (DoH), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Pooled together, the assistance can push the patient’s medical bill, including medicines, to the lowest possible amount.
While patients do not need to have cards to get the medical service that they need, the government is providing Malasakit Center Cards to senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) so they can be prioritized. These cards can be availed for free in any Malasakit Center.
Go said all Filipinos are qualified to avail themselves of medical health assistance from Malasakit Centers.
“Ang qualification ay Filipino lang. Hindi na kailangan kung ano ang ipapakita mo (The only qualification is that you are a Filipino. You do not need to present anything else), ” he said.
Go remains hopeful that the next administration will continue the program.
“Nasa sa kanila na ‘yan sa sunod na administrasyon kung ipagpapatuloy ba nila. Siguro kung makikita nila na nakakatulong sa taumbayan, sana ay ipagpatuloy nila (It’s up to the next administration if they want to continue this program. If they see that it is helpful to the Filipinos, I hope they continue it),” Go said.