This file photo shows Sen. Christopher Go at the opening of a Malasakit Center in Aklan in February 2020. (Photo from the senator’s office)

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go praised on Monday the establishment of at least one Malasakit Center in all six provinces that make up Western Visayas, at the same time urging the Duterte administration to keep widening access to health care services and lowering their costs.

“Let’s ensure that Malaskit Centers will continue to be opened in various parts of the country so that bring closer to the people the relief of services that they should be getting,” Go said in Filipino in a statement issued by his office on Tuesday.

“The opening of these centers is proof of our commitment to provide Filipinos the health care service they deserve. It shows how the administration has kept its word in providing fast, accessible, and reliable government services to our people,” he added.

So far, 141 Malasakit Centers have been set up nationwide — nine of them found in the following hospitals in Western Visayas:

  • Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Aklan
  • Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in Antique
  • Dr. Catalino Gallego Nava Provincial Hospital in Guimaras
  • West Visayas State University Medical Center in Iloilo
  • Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo
  • Western Visayas Sanitarium in Iloilo
  • Don Jose S. Monfort Medical Center Extension Hospital in Iloilo
  • Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Negros Occidental
  • Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital in Capiz

During the launch of the Malasakit Center in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, who represents the Lone District of that province, praised the administration’s continuing commitment to help underserved patients and recognized Go for his efforts to conceptualize and institutionalize the Malasakit Center program.

“I am very happy to support the vision of our hardworking and humble senator. I am so grateful that, as the representative of Antique [where we need] health care most, you have not forgotten us. In fact, you have made us part of the beneficiaries of the Malasakit Centers. This is what we need in government indeed — convergence,” Legarda said, as quoted by the statement from Go’s office.

Then speaking in a mix of Filipino and English, she added: “Let’s not make it hard for the poor by making them go around [government offices to get medical help]… I am extremely happy to share in your joy of this inauguration [of] the Malasakit Center that many indigent Antiqueños will benefit from because of your kind generosity. We are forever grateful.”

It was in n 2019 that President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11463 — the Malasakit Centers Act — that was authored and sponsored by Go.

The act mandates the establishment of one-stop shops where particularly poor and indigent patients may easily apply for the government’s medical assistance programs.

Its partner agencies include the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Their primary aim is to reduce, if not eliminate, a hospital bill by covering various patient services and out-of-pocket expenditures, such as medicines, laboratory fees, and surgeries.

Since the launch of the pioneering Malasakit Center in Cebu City in 2018, the program has assisted more than two million patients nationwide, according to Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health.

In the end, Go vowed to do everything to support Duterte’s vision to make high quality health care more affordable and accessible. By expanding access and lowering costs, he explained that the government can do its part to better secure the health of the Filipino people.

“We thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve,” Go said. “He is a mayor who became president. And I’m an ordinary staff member of his whom the Lord gave the opportunity to serve you. We ask for nothing more. We will return to you the people the service should be yours.”

Shifting to Hiligaynon, the dominant language in Western Visayas, Go said: “Thank you to all the Ilonggos. President Duterte and I love you. Let’s continue to help each other.”


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