Senator Christopher “Bong” Go hailed the Duterte Administration’s efforts to strengthen access to affordable and comprehensive health care during the launch of the country’s 151st Malasakit Center at the Quirino Provincial Medical Center (QPMC) in Cabarroguis town on Wednesday, March 2.
The QPMC is the first hospital in Quirino and the sixth in the Cagayan Valley Region to open a Malasakit Center. The 150th Malasakit Center was launched the previous day, March 1, in Batanes General Hospital in Basco.
Other Malasakit Centers in Region 2 are located in Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan; Region II Trauma and Medical Center in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya; and Faustino N. Dy, Sr. Memorial Hospital in Ilagan City and Southern Isabela Medical Center in Santiago City, both in Isabela.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop which hosts the government agencies that offer medical assistance to particularly poor and indigent patients. The agencies include the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
In a speech at the ceremony, Go lamented that many Filipinos are forced to delay or avoid medical care due to financial constraints. He praised the enormous progress made under President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership to eliminate barriers to health care, especially among low-income Filipinos in vulnerable rural and urban communities.
“Natutuwa ako na nakapagbukas na tayo ng Malasakit Center diyan sa Quirino. Two years na since dumating itong pandemya na talagang nagdulot ng hirap at sakripisyo sa lahat. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Pangulong Duterte na siyang naglagda ng batas para sa kanyang political will upang maiahon tayong lahat,” said the lawmaker.
“Ang Malasakit Center ay ipinangako namin sa inyo. Mabawasan man ang aming kapasidad tumulong ngayong patapos na ang termino ng Pangulo, magsisipag pa din akong magseserbisyo para sa ating bayan,” he pledged.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go called on government-run hospitals and the health sector to prioritize the care of their poor and elderly patients. He likewise called on the public to continue following the health and safety protocols against COVID-19 to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Bagamat unti-unti na tayong bumubukas, unahin muna natin ang kalusugan at buhay ng bawat Pilipino. Habang tuloy-tuloy ang pagbabakuna, huwag tayong maging kumpiyansa. Sumunod tayo sa mga paalala ng gobyerno at para naman ito sa kabutihan ninyo,” appealed Go.
“Maraming salamat sa inyong kooperasyon. Hindi magiging successful ang COVID response ng gobyerno kung hindi dahil sa inyo. Patuloy lang po tayo magtutulungan upang malampasan natin ang krisis na ito sa lalong madaling panahon,” he added.
The senator then touted the success of the vaccination campaign in keeping communities safe, controlling the spread of the pandemic, and reopening the economy.
“Maganda ang vaccination rate natin at ang vaccine confidence ay patuloy na tumataas. Pero napapansin namin na sa mga malalayong lugar, medyo kulang pa kaya nakikiusap kami ng Pangulo na magpabakuna na tayong lahat. Wala ng ibang susi para makabalik tayo sa normal,” he urged.
In the end, Go reaffirmed his commitment to support more initiatives that will aid in the pandemic recovery and development of the country.
“Kaya kahit sinuman ang susunod na pangulo, sana ay maipagpatuloy at mabigyan ng kaukulang suporta ang mga programang katulad ng Malasakit Centers na nakakatulong sa mga mahihirap lalo na ‘yung mga walang matatakbuhan,” Go said in an earlier statement.
Go also thanked the various officials who worked together to improve the delivery of vital medical services, including Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Governor Dakila Cua, Vice Governor Julius Vaquilar, and Hospital Chief Dr. Margarette De Guzman.
“This is a joyous occasion … itong milestone na pagtaguyod ng isang Malasakit Center kung saan lahat ng serbisyo ay ipinagsama sa isang lugar para hindi na mahirapan ang ating mga kababayan … Naniniwala kami na mananatili ito beyond the term of PRRD. Ito ay isang legacy nilang dalawa (ni Kuya Bong) na alam namin makakatulong habambuhay sa ating mga kababayan,” Gov. Cua said in his remarks.
“Ako ay natutuwa dahil si Senator Bong Go ay hindi tumigil ang kanyang malasakit, hindi tumigil ang kanyang trabaho at hindi tumigil ang kanyang serbisyo. Tunay nga na bisyo niyo ay magserbisyo kaya maraming salamat sa inyong serbisyo sa lalawigan ng Quirino,” the governor added.
After the ceremony, the senator’s team distributed meals, food packs and masks to a total of 512 healthcare workers and 70 indigent patients. They also provided select health workers with new shoes or bicycles for commuting to work or computer tablets which their children can use for their education.
In addition, the DSWD separately distributed financial assistance to the indigent patients and 408 rank-and-file hospital employees, including janitors and security guards.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go had supported various initiatives to boost regional development and economic growth in Quirino. The projects include the construction of a multi-purpose building in Cabarroguis; concreting of the Sinabbagan Road in Nagtipunan; construction of the Tamsi-Landingan Viewpoint water system in Nagtipunan; and installation of solar street lights in Saguday and Diffun.
His outreach teams also provided relief to over one thousand typhoon victims and micro-entrepreneurs in Aglipay, Cabarroguis, Diffun, Maddela, Nagtipunan and Saguday in 2021