Press Release
May 22, 2024

"Magtulungan tayo para makapagbigay ng maayos na serbisyong medikal sa ating mga kababayan" - Bong Go continues Senate Hearing into state of public health services

In a crucial public hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health and Demography on Monday, May 20, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairperson of the said committee, presided over discussions on various health programs including the efficient implementation of the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan and the execution of Republic Act 11959 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act which he principally sponsored and is one of the authors.

"A budget of around PhP 10 billion was included this year for establishing various specialty centers in DOH hospitals. We want to know the status of its implementation...We also want to ensure that public health facilities we are constructing would be operational. Dapat po'y mapapakinabangan po ito," Go urged.

Discussions also included the proposed establishment of a National Center for Geriatric Health, aligned with RA 11959. "Para ito sa mga matatanda at senior citizens dahil alam naman natin na hindi maiiwasang magkasakit habang tumatanda tayo. Maaaring kailangan ng dedicated hospital para sa kanila," Go proposed.

"We must ensure the right to health of our senior citizens by ensuring that health services are available and accessible to them through establishing a specialized hospital and research institute," he championed.

Additionally, the Committee tackled the bill to increase the bed capacity of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), one of the country's largest modern government tertiary hospitals, serving over 600,000 patients annually. As a national referral center for tertiary care, PGH provides essential services to indigent Filipinos. Senator Go also inquired about the construction of halfway houses within PGH.

Senator Go likewise requested updates on the DOH's Medical Assistance for Indigent Program (MAIP), in line with RA 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act, another law he principally sponsored and authored.

"I heard of reports that the West Visayas State University Medical Center, lumapit po bigla, noong guest speaker po ako dun sa nurses association event, na kulang na po ang pondo nila para sa medical assistance for indigent patients at may iba pa bang mga ospital na kulang pa po?," he asked.

"Diba PhP58 billion po pondo ng inyong MAIP, Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients? It was also reported that the DBM released PhP2.4 billion for medical assistance to indigent and financially incapacitated patients o MAIP. Gusto nating malaman kung natutulungan ba ang mga ospital na ito," Go cited.

Furthermore, the senator asked the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) regarding the disbursement of Health Emergency Allowances (HEA) to healthcare workers.

Emphasizing the prolonged wait healthcare workers have endured, Senator Go sought updates from DOH Secretary Ted Herbosa and DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, who were both in attendance.

"During the past hearings, we have urged the DOH and the DBM to reconcile their records — pangatlo na po itong hearing na ito sa pagdidinig ng Health Emergency Allowance — and expedite the release of the Health Emergency Allowance due to our healthcare workers. Parati kong sinasabi, sila po ang hero ng panahon ng pandemya. Pinaghirapan na po nila ito. Services rendered na po ito, dapat po ay ibigay sa kanila kung ano po ang nararapat sa kanila. Hindi na sila dapat magmakaawa para sa benepisyo na para naman po sa kanila ayon sa batas," Go emphasized.

Senator Go recounted multiple instances during his visits across various regions where local healthcare workers vocally asked for updates on their HEA. As an author and co-sponsor of Republic Act No. 11712, which grants benefits and allowances to healthcare workers during public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Go remains a staunch advocate for their rights and the proper implementation of the law.

"Sa pag-iikot ko sa iba't ibang lugar sa bansa, kapag pumupunta po ako sa ospital o sa mga Super Health Center, may mga nurses na naka-alis na po ng bansa, iyong iba po'y namatay na, hindi pa nila nakukuha yung kanilang HEA. Wala ba itong katapusan?" Go questioned.

"Hangga't hindi nababayaran ang HEA nila ay hindi po tayo titigil. Kawawa talaga, kahit saan iyan sinisigaw talaga nila 'HEA, HEA!'," he added.

Despite the lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency last year, Senator Go continues to appeal to the executive branch to release the pending HEA for eligible healthcare workers in accordance with the law. He highlighted that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has prioritized this issue, as underscored during his State of the Nation Address in 2023.

"Sabi ko, this Committee has been an avenue for healthcare workers in the previous hearings, and it will continue to be a platform for them to voice their concerns. To our healthcare workers, I am one with you in your call to release your much-deserved allowances," Go affirmed.

In his closing remarks, Senator Go urged all concerned to prioritize assisting poor Filipinos nationwide, stressing the importance of collective effort in recovery from various crises. He underscored the government's responsibility to safeguard the welfare of every Filipino.

"With that being said, this Committee would like to be updated on the state of our healthcare system and the status of our efforts to further improve it. Magtulungan po tayo para makapagbigay ng maayos na serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan lalung-lalo na po yung mga hopeless, helpless at walang malapitan," urged Go who is known as Mr. Malasakit for his compassionate service for the poor.

News Latest News Feed