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Malasakit hubs to become fixtures

We will prioritize the DoH-run hospitals because they have the existing personnel.

Hananeel Bordey

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The institutionalization of Malasakit Centers in hospitals ran by the Department of Health (DoH) through a law is receiving wide support from both the Senate and within the administration.

During the Senate health committee deliberations on Senate Bill 199 filed by Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, senators gave their support to the bill seeking to institutionalize the one-stop-shop assistance centers.

“We will do it (Malasakit Center) by phase. We will prioritize the DoH-run hospitals because they have the existing personnel. We have encountered the lack of personnel because many are asking to set-up Malasakit Centers in (different areas),” Go said in an ambush interview.

He said after the DoH-run hospitals, the Malasakit Centers can be established in different local government units specifically among provincial hospitals but he said the bill will set criteria for LGU to set up centers in their area.

At the hearing, the panel attended by Go, Senators Nancy Binay, Koko Pimentel and Risa Hontiveros scrutinized the funding needs and the organizational structure of each Malasakit Center.

Binay said funding for the centers should be stated under the bill to assure that these centers will be funded properly so that it can be considered in the 2020 National Budget.

“I wanted to institutionalize this and based on our meeting last time with department secretaries and department heads, I don’t want to fund this yet since, by this time, we will have a hard time to find allocations. We will just set-up a one-stop-shop. If the budget is already available, then let’s amend the law,” Go said.

Binay pointed out that getting employees in each Malasakit Center will immediately need the provision of funds.

Health Undersecretary Lilibeth David said the Malasakit Centers will need P5 billion for direct assistance to patients, P1.5 million for infrastructure and P500 million for personnel pay.

Still to get funding

Meanwhile, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Assistant Director on Organization, Position, Classification and Compensation Bureau Ma. Lourdes Aganon suggested that the President appoints a director for a Malasakit Office within the DoH.

“We support the creation of Malasakit Office in DoH but we suggest that a director for SG (Salary Grade) 28 position be named instead of the proposed national director position and to be appointed by the President just to be consistent with the Civil Service rules,” Aganon said.

Senator Ronald de la Rosa also manifested his support to the proposed institutionalized Malasakit Centers citing his experiences in the past where his two siblings died due to lack of funds for their medical needs.

According to Go, there are 18 DoH-run hospitals with Malasakit Centers and there are 23 more in other provincial and city hospitals.
The neophyte lawmaker said they will target to install these one-stop shops in all 70 state hospitals.

Go backs competitive pay

Go added he is seeking to promote the welfare of government servants by ensuring more competitive pay for them during a Senate hearing by the Committee on Civil Service, Government and Professional Regulation joint with Basic Education, Arts and Culture; Higher, Technical and Vocational Education; Ways and Means; and Finance Committees.

During the first committee hearing on Go’s Senate Bill 200, or the proposed “Act Modifying the Salary Schedule for Civilian Government Personnel, the Senator said that the government continues to look for ways to promote the welfare of civil servants and increase their pay.

“As promised by the President, the government will continue to look after the welfare of its employees and grant salary increase to all civilian employees, including teachers and nurses. This will be a holistic approach,” Go said.

“We intend to provide competitive and equitable pay to attract and retain competent and committed civil servants, while also keeping it affordable and sustainable,” he added.

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