Press Release
December 7, 2023

Bong Go reminds DOH to prioritize healthcare for the poor and bring medical services closer to communities, as he sponsors Herbosa's CA confirmation

As the Chair of the Commission on Appointments Committee on Health, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go sponsored the confirmation of the ad interim appointment of Dr. Teodoro Javier Herbosa, as the Secretary of Health on Tuesday, December 5. During the CA plenary session, Go emphasized the need to prioritize poor and vulnerable Filipinos and maintain continuity in government health programs.

During the CA committee hearing earlier that day, Go focused on the continued support for Malasakit Centers, as mandated by Republic Act 11463, known as the Malasakit Centers Act. He sought the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary's commitment to these centers, underscoring their essential role in providing aid to indigent patients.

Go's inquiry aimed to ensure that DOH would uphold the provisions of the act and properly implement the Malasakit Centers program, recognizing its importance in providing medical assistance for underprivileged Filipinos.

In response to Go's inquiries, Herbosa affirmed DOH's commitment to enhancing healthcare accessibility through the continued operation and support of Malasakit centers. He confirmed that over a hundred of these centers, located in various hospitals under DOH, will continue to operate and provide assistance to indigent patients.

Go also delved into various health concerns, including the rising cases of influenza, and the proper preparations and management of possible health emergencies. He also highlighted the significant roles played by healthcare workers during the pandemic and stressed the need for their proper compensation based on RA 11712.

Go is one of the authors and co-sponsors of RA 11712, a law that provides for continuing benefits and allowances to healthcare workers during public health emergencies. Despite the lifting of the state of public health emergency in July, many healthcare workers have yet to receive their Health Emergency Allowances (HEA).

"Nakikiusap po ako sa ating DOH at DBM, obligasyon po ito ng gobyerno. Pinapaalalahanan ko lang po kayo, kayo po ang implementing arm ng gobyerno, ang DOH at DBM. Sana maibigay po what is due to our healthcare workers," urged Go.

"Alam nating hindi mababayaran ng kahit anuman po ang buhay at sakripisyo na ibinigay po ng ating mga frontliners. Ito po'y services rendered, pinagpawisan na po ito ng ating mga medical frontliners. Kaya dapat lang na ibigay na ng gobyerno sa kanila ang dapat na matanggap nila ayon sa batas," he further appealed.

In addressing rising health concerns, Herbosa reiterated the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the importance of social distancing and voluntary wearing of face masks, as key preventive measures to curb the spread of illnesses. His advice highlighted the continued relevance of these practices in the context of current and emerging health challenges.

Focusing on the financial aspects, Go touched upon the issue of unpaid claims from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). He sought updates on the status of these claims and recommendations for improving the efficiency of claim processing.

"Importante dito walang masayang na pondo po ng gobyerno ni piso at para hindi rin po maantala ang operasyon ng ating mga hospitals po," said Go.

Herbosa acknowledged the ongoing efforts to address the ongoing challenges of PhilHealth. He assured, "We have actually asked the management of PhilHealth to start paying and they have promised to pay arrears of more than 60 days in a period of 90 days."

Go then underscored the significance of prioritizing the poor and bringing medical services closer to communities.

"Isa lang ang paalala ko kay Secretary Herbosa -- unahin ang kapakanan ng mahihirap at huwag pabayaan ang mga nangangailangan, lalo na 'yung mga pasyenteng walang matakbuhan kundi ang gobyerno, 'yung mga hopeless at helpless nating mga kababayan," Go said.

Go also emphasized the importance of continuity in DOH initiatives, particularly in light of the ongoing healthcare challenges. He remarked, "Alam n'yo 'yung challenge sa panahon ng pandemya at naging parte ka po diyan, Secretary Herbosa. Kaya ako, full support po ako sa inyo. Nandiyan po ang continuity ng mga programs po ng ating DOH."

In his sponsorship speech, Go expressed that it is an honor and privilege to recommend Herbosa's confirmation as Secretary of Health. He also delved into Herbosa's extensive experience and connection to Philippine hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

"Mr. Chair, gaya ni Dr. Jose Rizal, ang ating appointee ay isang makabansang mamamayan ng ating Inang Bayan. Si Dr. Teodoro Herbosa ay apo sa tuhod ni Lucia Rizal-Herbosa, kapatid ni Dr. Jose Rizal. The patriotic blood of Dr. Jose Rizal runs in his veins."

Go also emphasized Herbosa's early life in Manila, where he was nurtured with values of education, compassion, and service, setting a strong foundation for his future endeavors. Herbosa's academic journey led him to the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, where he specialized in trauma surgery.

His career spanned various significant roles in both national and international medical institutions, highlighting his extensive expertise and commitment to healthcare.

In addition to his achievements, Herbosa has a distinguished record in public service. He rose to the position of Undersecretary of Health and played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a Special Adviser to the National Task Force. His contributions in this capacity underscored his capabilities in healthcare management and crisis response, further solidifying his qualifications for the role of Secretary of Health.

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