Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go on August 27, 2019, fired back at Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman for being “anti-poor” after the latter branded the ‘Malasakit Center’ as a partisan tool.
“Congressman Lagman, do not be anti-poor. Ang pera ng tao, nararapat lamang na ibalik sa tao. Mahiya kayo sa mgaconstituents ninyo. Mahiya kayo sa milyun-milyong Pilipinong natulungan na ng programang ito, (People’s money should be returned to them. You should think of your constituents and millions of Filipinos who benefited from this program),” Go said in his privilege speech at the Senate session hall.
Go reminded Lagman that Albay was one of the provinces that benefited from the program as no less than the congressman’s son, Vice Governor Grex Lagman, attended the launch of the 15th Malasakit Center in Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Lagaspi City on Oct. 24, 2018.
“Ni hindi niya man lang naisip na isa ang kanyang probinsiya sa mga kauna-unahang nakinabang sa programang ito ng gobyerno (He did not even consider that his province was among those who benefited from this program of the government,” Go said.
During the deliberations of the House Appropriations Committee on the 202 national budget last Friday (Aug. 23), Lagman said the Malasakit Center being champion by Go is “a partisan tool rather than a medical outlet”.
Lagman asked the officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for a legal basis why the government-run corporation is providing funds for Malasakit Centers.
Contrary to what Lagman was implying, Go said the PCSO does not fund the operations of Malasakit Centers.
Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop for medical and financial assistance. Currently, 41 Malasakit Centers have been established in different parts of the country.
Go said if the move to criticize the program was for anyone’s political gain, he said critics should just give it up because this is not the purpose of Malasakit Center.
He added that the Malasakit Center program is one of the solutions of the Duterte administration to provide quick and quality access to healthcare to all Filipinos, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic background, religion and political affiliation.
Go said it is Lagman, and not the Malasakit Centers, who is using medical assistance for political purposes.
“Balita ko pinapupunta mo pa sa bahay mo ang mga tao para mag-avail ng (I’ve heard that you are asking the people to go your house to avail of the) benefits or assistance,” Go said while presenting a copy of an endorsement letter that Lagman’s office purportedly gives to patients to be shown to hospitals.
He said he never required such processes and he does not choose the people whom he helps.
Go said the Malasakit Center’s goal is to simply provide convenient access to quality healthcare for every Filipino.
Malasakit Centers, he added, have “proper queuing system and express lanes for senior citizens and people with disabilities” so that Filipinos will no longer have to endure long lines to get medical assistance from the government.
Go called on his fellow lawmakers to support Senate Bill No. 199 which he filed to establish Malasakit Centers in all government hospitals all over the country to complement the Universal Health Care law.
“This is, in fact, the very reason why we would like to institutionalize the Malasakit Center program through a proposed measure we filed just last month,” Go said. (PNA)