MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday visited Ilagan City, Isabela to join the opening of the country’s 62nd Malasakit Center and to witness the turnover of financial assistance from the Office of the President (OP) to typhoon victims and affected farmers of the province.
“Dito sa Malasakit Center, pinagsama-sama natin ang apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno (Under Malasakit Center, we have four government agencies),” Go said in his speech, referring to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The Malasakit Center, located inside the Gov. Faustino N. Dy Sr. Memorial Hospital at Barangay Calamagui 2nd, serves as a one-stop-shop for financial and medical assistance from the four agencies.
“Hindi na ninyo kailangang pumila sa iba’t ibang opisina. Palalagyan din natin ito ng express lane para sa (You need not to line up in different offices. We will also put up express lane for) senior citizens and persons with disabilities,” Go said.
Go said the provincial government of Isabela also contributed funds for the Malasakit Center as additional assistance in case the four agencies cannot cover the entire bill of a patient.
“Zero balance ang target ng Malasakit Center,” he explained.
The center covers patient services and expenses, such as laboratories, medicines, surgeries or operations, with the exemption of professional fees and private room accommodation.
The process of seeking assistance has also been simplified through the Malasakit Unified Form, which means that there is only one form to fill up for Filipinos requesting medical assistance.
Under the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last year, Go said all 73 DOH-run hospitals will have Malasakit Center.
Aside from the DOH-run hospitals and the Philippine General Hospital, the law also allows local government units (LGUs) to establish Malasakit Centers provided that they meet the standards and criteria to ensure sustainability and consistency in the services provided by the centers, he added.
Go also attended the turnover of checks to the province and to its component city of Ilagan and 18 of its municipalities that were affected by last year’s typhoons — Ramon, Rosita and Tisoy — at the Ilagan City Community Center.
The city of Tuguegarao in Cagayan province, which was affected by typhoons Ramon and Quiel in 2019, also received financial assistance.
During the turnover, the DSWD conducted a ceremonial distribution of financial assistance to the 15 families. A total of 35,000 families were affected by typhoons which happened in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) also held a ceremonial turnover of farm equipment to farmers’ associations and one-time financial assistance to 1,000 farmers from Ilagan City and 732 farmers from the municipality of Jones.
Go took the opportunity to make an appeal to communist rebels to engage in peace talks with the government.
“Ayokong kapwa Pilipino nagpapatayan (Filipinos should not kill each other),” he said.
“Nagtiwala kami sa inyo. Ilang beses kaming umakyat ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa bundok sa Davao para kunin ang mga nabihag na sundalo at pulis. Walang bodyguard, walang baril, kami lang dalawa…Magtiwala lang tayo. Wala na kayong ibang Pangulo na sinserong makipag-usap sa inyo para magkaroon ng kapayapaan (We trusted you. Me and President Rodrigo Duterte went to the mountains in Davao to get captive soldiers and police. No bodyguard, no gun, only two of us. You should trust us. You have no other President who will talk to you seriously to achieve peace),” he added.
He also urged the people of Isabela to continue supporting the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, crimes and corruption.
In a media interview, Go emphasized the need for the establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“Nagkaroon na po kami ng pagdinig sa Senado tungkol dito. Sabi ko, importante na kapag may bagyo, earthquake o pagputok ng bulkan, may Cabinet-level na opisyal na mamamahala (We already conducted Senate hearing about it. I said, it is important that every time there is an earthquake or eruption of volcano, a Cabinet level official should take charge),” Go said.
He said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Office of Civil Defense and other concerned agencies will be placed under the proposed DDR for proper coordination.
In July last year, Go filed Senate Bill 205 for the creation of “an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.”
He said the proposed DDR will have regional offices.
Go, chair of the Senate committee on health, also talked about the government’s efforts to stop the spread of novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD).
He reiterated the need to track all the airplane passengers who were in the same flights as the two Chinese nationals who entered the country on January 21 and were both tested for 2019-nCoV ARD.
“Trabaho ‘yan ng (Bureau of) Immigration, ng PNP (Philippine National Police). Kaya nilang hanapin ‘yan. Sabi ko sa committee hearing kahapon sa Senado, dapat noon pa hinanap na ninyo kaagad (That’s the job of Bureau of Immigration and PNP. They can trace the passengers. I said in the committee hearing, they should have done it immediately),” Go said. “Di tayo pwedeng mag kompyansa o maging kampante dito (We should not be complacent).”
Go urged the public to remain calm and help the government protect the country and its people from the virus. (PR)