Press Release
July 7, 2021

Bong Go continues to fight for better healthcare access as 126th Malasakit Center launches in Zamboanga City

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go continued to show support for Zamboangueños in need as he virtually attended the opening of the 126th Malasakit Center in the country held at the Mindanao Central Sanitarium in Zamboanga City on Monday, July 5.

The Malasakit Center is the second opened in the city and sixth in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Other nearby locations of Malasakit Centers include the Zamboanga City Medical Center, Dr. Jose Rizal Memorial Center in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte Medical Center in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center in Pagadian City, and Margosatubig Regional Hospital in Margosatubig, Zamboanga del Sur.

"Natutuwa ako na mayroon na tayong 126 na Malasakit Centers sa buong bansa. Marami nito ay nasa Mindanao at dalawa mismo ay nasa Zamboanga City. Ano nga ba ang ibig sabihin ng malasakit? Ito ay ang pagpapahayag ng pagmamahal para sa iyung kapwa tao," started Go.

"Natutunan ko ang tunay na kahulugan ng malasakit sa mga taong nagsilbi ako sa ilalim ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte nung mayor pa siya ng Davao City. Doon ko nakita ang malasakit ng Pangulo para sa kapwa niyang Pilipino," he continued.

The Senator, in a speech delivered virtually, recounted his experience working with indigent patients who could not afford the medical care that they deserved. He noted that patients living in rural and low-income areas often went without care due to financial and transportation barriers.

"Marami nun ang lumalapit sa city hall (sa Davao City) para humingi ng tulong kahit hindi sila residente. Pipila ang mga 'yan ng Lunes sa city hall, Martes sa PhilHealth at Miyerkules sa [Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office]. Ubos na panahon nila, ubos pa pera nila sa pamasahe," said Go.

"Hindi matiis ni Pangulo na tanggihan 'yung mga humihingi ng tulong. Kaya nung naging presidente siya, inisip ko kung ano ang pwede nating gawin para matulungan ang mga pasyenteng mahihirap," he added.

To provide easy and convenient access to government aid, Go initiated the first Malasakit Center at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City in 2018. The center is a one-stop shop which connects patients with the various national agencies that offer medical assistance, namely PhilHealth, PCSO, Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The Malasakit Centers program was established under the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go principally authored and sponsored. Since the pioneering launch, the centers have assisted more than two million patients altogether.

"Nung isang araw nasa Siargao Island kami. Bumibiyahe pa ng isang oras ang mga pasyente sakay ng bangka para makatawid at makahingi lang ng tulong sa kapitolyo. Ngayon, hindi na nila kailangan gawin 'yun dahil mayroon na silang Malasakit Center," shared Go.

"Hindi pumipili ang Malasakit Center ng tutulungan. Karapatan niyo ito bilang mga Pilipino. Binabalik namin ang pera niyo sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng maayos at maaasahang serbisyo. Kaya sa mga poor at indigent patients diyan, puntahan niyo na ang Malasakit Center dahil para talaga sa inyo ito," he reassured.

The Senator, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, encouraged hospital staff members to persevere with dedication amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked them to prioritize the poor and the marginalized as he vowed to continue working closely with the Duterte Administration to promote and protect their rights and welfare.

"Ubusin niyo ang perang matatanggap niyo sa gobyerno para tulungan ang mga mahihirap natin na kababayan. Ngayon, kung may pasyenteng kailangang dalhin sa Maynila, pwede niyong lapitan ang aking opisina at kami na ang sasalo ni Pangulong Duterte," promised Go.

"Huwag kayong magpasalamat sa amin. Kami ang nagpapasalamat sa inyo, sa mga kapatid naming Kristiyano at Muslim diyan sa Zamboanga, dahil binigyan niyo kami ng pagkakataon para magsilbi sa ating bayan," he ended.

After the ceremony, Go's personnel provided meals, vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 292 health workers as a show of appreciation for their hard work and contributions to the local COVID-19 response.

Selected health workers were also given new pairs of shoes or bicycles while others received computer tablets for their children to use for their school activities.

Moreover, representatives from the DSWD distributed financial assistance to 198 rank-and-file hospital employees. The same forms of assistance were likewise extended to 46 indigent patients.

"The MCS is deeply honored to be the 126th hospital to launch its very own Malasakit Center. This has been a long awaited moment for us... The establishment of this center will ensure that every patient who comes to this hospital will be given financial risk protection and assistance, especially during these trying times," said Dr. Hannah Turco, who serves as Chief of Hospital.

The Senator expressed his gratitude to 1st District Representative Cesar Jimenez, Jr. and 2nd District Rep. Manuel Dalipe for advocating for the passage of the Malasakit Centers Act on the House floor.

He also thanked other individuals who extended their support to the program and helped make healthcare affordable and accessible in the remotest parts of the Philippines. The individuals included Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Assistant Secretary Girlie Veloso of the Office of President, Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, Vice Mayor Rommel Agan, and Dr. Turco.

To help improve the delivery of local health services, Go has supported the funding for the construction of a two-storey hospital building for the Camp Navarro General Hospital at the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon in Brgy. Bagong Calarian, Zamboanga City.

Later that day, he and President Duterte flew to the city to personally meet and condole with the victims of the recent Philippine Air Force C-130 plane crash accident in Patikul, Sulu.

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