Senator Bong Go praised the courage of the Visayan medical frontliners who volunteered to be deployed in Metro Manila during his speech at the launch of the country’s 105th Malasakit Center at the Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital in Palo, Leyte.
“Maraming salamat sa mga Bisaya sa inyong pagmamalasakit at pagpapadala ng medical workers sa Maynila. Kulang talaga ang mga frontliners sa National Capital Region Plus dahil sa tumataas na bilang ng kaso ng COVID-19. Sa ngayon, nakapagpadala na tayo ng dalawang batches at may mga susunod pa,” Go stressed.
The legislator said he had appealed to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to augment the number of health workers in the country by prioritizing the inoculation of the Philippine Regulation Commission’s frontline personnel in order for the nursing board exams not to be delayed.
“Nung isang araw, nakiusap ako sa Inter-Agency Task Force na isali ang mga PRC examiners at iba pa nitong opisyales para makapag-resume na ng pag-eeksamin sa mga graduate ng health courses,” the lawmaker revealed.
“Pinayagan na so, hopefully, ang exams ng mga nurses ay mapapaaga na para naman kapag pumasa sila, makatulong na rin sila at makapagserbisyo sa ating mga kababayan,” the senator added.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, he vowed to lend his voice and fight for the rights and welfare of all healthcare workers as they dedicate their lives to fighting this pandemic.
Go most notably fought for the inclusion of additional funds in the 2020 budget to provide for the salary increase of government nurses in Nurse I and II positions.
He also authored the Salary Standardization Law V which raised the salary of all civilian government employees, including nurses and teachers, from 2020 to 2023.
“Ito ang panahon na dapat bigyan natin ng importansya ang mga healthworkers.”
“Ito ang panahon na dapat bigyan natin ng importansya ang mga healthworkers. Patuloy kong ipaglalaban ang inyong kapakanan. Kung may reklamo kayo, ako ang inyong boses,” Go reassured.
“Gaya noon, ipinaglaban ko na pumasa ang Salary Standardization Law V para may pondo ang pag-increase sa sahod ng mga nurses. Iyong financial assistance sa mga namatayan na health workers na matagal ma-release, sinumbong ko kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at ngayon naibigay na ang sahod at nasuspinde ang mga opisyales na responsable,” he shared.
Among his first acts in office, Go authored and successfully pushed for the passage of the legislation that became Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, with the goal of improving access to quality and affordable healthcare in the country.
The law brings together under one center the government agencies from which Filipino patients may seek medical assistance, specifically the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
The one-stop shop aims to reduce to the lowest amount possible the balance of the hospital bills of those who seek its assistance.
It covers patient services and expenses, such as laboratories, medicines, surgeries and operations.
As of writing, nine Malasakit Centers have been established in Eastern Visayas, with four of them in Leyte.
They include those in the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City, Ormoc District Hospital, and Leyte Provincial Hospital which was launched earlier that day with Go in attendance, also in Palo.
To express his appreciation for their hard work and dedication, Go’s team provided new pairs of shoes, bicycles, and computer tablets to select medical staff members following the activity.
They also handed out meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to 200 staff members and 50 patients while the DSWD provided financial assistance in a separate distribution.
“Ang importante, buhay tayo.”
“Marami ang nawalan ng trabaho, ang naghihirap na dahil sa pandemya. Ang importante, buhay tayo dahil ang pera naman ay ating kikitain subalit ang perang kikitain natin ay hindi mabibili ang buhay kaya magtulungan lang tayo. Malalagpasan din natin itong krisis na ito bilang nagkakaisang Pilipino,” said Go.
He went on to recognize the various government officials for extending support to the program and continuing to serve their constituents in the midst of a global pandemic.
Among those present were Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas; Governor Leopoldo Petilla; Vice Governor Carlo Loreto; Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone; and Provincial Board Members Gina Merilo, Ma. Corazon Remandaban, Emmanuel Gacis and Florante Cayunda Jr.
Go also acknowledged Palo Mayor Frances Petilla, Alangalang Mayor Lovell Yu, Santa Fe Mayor Amparo Monteza, Tolosa Mayor Maria Ofelia Alcantara, and Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari.
Later that day, he proceeded to the Cirilo Roy Montejo Sports Complex where his team distributed similar aid to hundreds of beneficiaries composed of flood victims. All activities were carried out in batches and in strict observance of the health and safety protocols against COVID-19.