Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go virtually attended the launch of the country’s 76th Malasakit Center at the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija on July 29, 2020.
The newly opened Malasakit Center is the 2nd in the province and 38th in Luzon.
“Patuloy po ang serbisyo ng Malasakit Centers para mabigyan ng mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyong medikal ang mga Pilipino kahit saan mang parte ng bansa. Lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya, hindi dapat maantala ang pagbubukas ng dagdag na Malasakit Centers kaya sa Zoom na lang muna tayo ngayon,” Go said during the launch.
“Gusto ko talagang pumunta diyan, sa totoo lang pero medyo marami pa kasing bawal. Sunod lang muna tayo sa health and safety protocols. Babalik po ako d’yan. Pupuntahan ko po kayo kapag pwede na upang mapakinggan ang inyong hinaing. Palagi pong bukas ang aming opisina para tumulong at magserbisyo sa inyo,” he added.
Go, then, explained the purpose of Malasakit Centers and how they expedite the provision of medical and financial assistance to patients.
“Pangalawang Malasakit Center na po pala ito sa Nueva Ecija. Noong unang pagbubukas po ng Malasakit Center diyan, nandiyan po ako. Ang Malasakit Center ay one-stop shop, at tumutulong ‘yung apat na ahensya ng gobyerno magbibigay ng tulong sa inyo,” the Senator explained.
Filipinos who need medical and financial assistance to cover their hospital bills would only need to fill up one form in the Malasakit Center as a way to streamline the process of availing such assistance from partner agencies. A special lane is also provided specifically for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Concerned agencies extending medical and financial assistance programs that are housed in these centers are the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
With the enactment of the Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, all hospitals run by the DOH all over the country and the Philippine General Hospital in Manila are now mandated to establish their own Malasakit Centers.
Hospitals run by local government units and other public hospitals may also establish their own Malasakit Centers provided that they meet a standard set of criteria and guarantee the availability of funds for the operation of their centers, including its maintenance, personnel, and staff training, among others.
Patients who would be admitted to LGU-run and other public hospitals but are eligible for medical and financial assistance could also seek assistance from the Malasakit Centers.
Meanwhile, Go thanked all frontliners for their heroism in this time of pandemic. “Yung sakripisyo ninyo sa panahong ito, rest assured na ipaglalaban ko ang inyong kapakanan,” he said.
“Kung ano pa ang maitutulong namin sa inyo, lalo na sa mga frontliners. Sinasabi natin na sila ang bayani natin ngayon, kaya suportahan natin sila sa kanilang mga pangangailangan,” he added.
He also urged them to report any irregularity or maltreatment that they would encounter in the course of their duty. “Ako naman, handa akong magsalita. Kung may nakikita kayong katiwalian o hindi pantay ang pagtrato sa inyo, sabihin niyo po.”
Go also shared that the Salary Standardization Law 5 has been signed into law. “For the information po ng ating mga nurses at health workers, isa sa mga ipinangako namin ni Pangulo, ‘yung SSL 5. Ito po ‘yung unti-unting pag-increase ng salaries ng ating government workers. Na-mention po ito ng Pangulo sa kanyang SONA.”
“Holistic po ang approach nito, not only nurses but doctors, health workers and other civilian personnel na nasa gobyerno ay kasama po rito,” he added.
He also mentioned that the Supreme Court decision to finally increase the minimum salary grade of government nurses has finally been implemented eighteen years after a law providing such increase was enacted.
Meanwhile, to further alleviate the burden of poor patients, Go shared that the President has already signed an Executive Order to regulate the prices of select drugs including essential medicines most commonly prescribed to patients.
“Kaya nga sinulong namin ‘yung maximum retail price ng mga gamot. Ipinaglaban namin na makapag-issue agad si Pangulo ng EO sa MDRP. Ibig sabihin may price ceiling na po sa more than 100 (essential) medicines,” Go said.
“Kase kung walang price ceiling, ang mga kababayan natin mapipilitang bumili ng gamot na hindi naman tinitignan halos ang presyo. May sakit eh. No choice sila. Kaya dapat bigyan natin ng price ceiling para po sa mga mahihirap at wala pong matakbuhan. Let’s be fair sa lahat,” he added.
Ending his message, Go asked the public not to hesitate in seeking his office’s assistance during times of need. “Huwag kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa akin. Trabaho namin ito.”
“Gagawin namin ang lahat ng aming magagawa, lalo na ako, dito sa Senate Committee on Health, hindi lang para sa COVID patients kundi para sa lahat ng mga Pilipino,” he added.