Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Friday attended the blessing of a new building which shall house the Malasakit Center and several other offices that provide health support services at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
“Sa tulong ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte, Mayor Sara Duterte, Congressman Paolo Duterte, at Vice Mayor Baste Duterte ay na ilagay na rito sa loob ng bagong building na ito ang iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno para mas mabilis na matulungan kayo,” Go said.
The four-story building will also house the offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Botika ng Bayan, and the Lingap para sa Mahirap program which provides assistance to indigent patients from the city.
Satellite offices of the Office of the President and the office of the First Congressional District of Davao City will likewise be opened to provide further support to Davaoeños.
“Kung kayo ay taga-First District, mayroong congressional pati Mayor’s office na pwede ninyong lapitan. Pero kung taga-Marbel, North Cotabato o Surigao kayo, nariyan din ang Office of the President para magbigay ng tulong,” Go added.
Through this initiative, the government hopes to improve access to medical assistance for many patients who may now directly request aid from various government agencies without needing to travel to different offices in separate locations. The OP and Lingap offices will be open 24/7 while the rest will be open during regular office hours.
Go who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, encouraged the patients to seek the services of the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop that aims to reduce to the lowest amount possible the balance of a hospital bill by covering various services and expenses, such as laboratories, medicines, surgeries and operations.
“Itong Malasakit Center ay nagsimula noong panahon ni Mayor Rody Duterte na ipinagpatuloy ni Mayor Sara. Noong unang panahon, marami ang pumupunta riyan sa city hall para manghingi ng tulong. Doon ko nakita ang puso ni Mayor Duterte at Mayor Inday na hindi matiis na hindi tumulong kahit hindi taga-Davao,” according to Go.
“Kaya noong naging Presidente si Mayor Duterte, tinanong ko kung ano bang konsepto ang pwede nating gawin para sa mga nangangailangan na pasyente,” he continued.
Upon winning a seat in the Senate in 2019, Go authored and sponsored the passage of a measure that eventually became Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.
The measure, signed by the President in December 2019, gathers the government agencies from which indigent patients may conveniently seek medical assistance into one office. These agencies include the Department of Health, DSWD, PhilHealth, and PCSO.
One such family who benefited from the Malasakit Center was Merly Awe and her four-year-old grandchild whose medical expenses were paid for by the government after they sought assistance through the one-stop shop.
“Malaki talaga ang naitulong ng Malasakit Center dahil sila na ang nagbayad. Wala akong ginastos,” said Awe who hails from Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
“Malaki ang aming pasasalamat. Nagpapasalamat kami dahil sila [Senator Bong Go at Presidente Duterte] talaga ay nakatulong. Ang Diyos na lang ang babawi sa kanilang pagtulong sa amin,” she added.
As part of the event, Go’s team also extended assistance to all admitted patients at that time and provided them with meals, food and medicine packs, medical-grade and reusable masks, and face shields. Each patient, as well as each Malasakit Center personnel, also received financial assistance from the DSWD as part of the ongoing efforts by the national government to assist those struggling financially due to the pandemic.
At the same time, Go acknowledged the members of the SPMC staff, led by Hospital Chief Dr. Ricardo Audan, for their service to the hospital, their patients, and the community. He also recognized other local government officials whose efforts made the new building possible.
“Nagpapasalamat kami ni Presidente Duterte, Mayor Sara, Vice Mayor Baste at Congressman Pulong sa inyo dahil binigyan niyo kami ng pagkakataon na magserbisyo sa inyo. Huwag sana kayong mahiya dahil magkakapitbahay naman tayong mga Bisaya. Kung mayroon pa kayong pangangailangan ay magsabi lang kayo at handa kami na tumulong sa inyo sa abot ng amin makakaya,” Go assured.