The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) said former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) and now senatorial aspirant Bong Go is determined to implement President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to put up a Malasakit Center in every province and city in the country.
OPAV Assistant Secretary Anthony Gerard Gonzales told members of the Liga ng mga Barangay of South Cotabato that the President and Go wanted a simplified processing of medical assistance for poor patients in government hospitals.
Barangay chairmen from South Cotabato, headed by its provincial president, Rolando Malabuyoc, were in Cebu for the 17th Provincial Liga Congress (16th Mobile Conference) which was held at the Quest Hotel and Conference Center in Lahug.
Gonzales boasted to the congress participants the administration’s brand of public service through “bridging the grassroots to the government” and making “government services more accessible and closer to the people.
“Investing in the health sector is never a cost to be endured, but an opportunity to be explored,” the official quoted the President as saying during his 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA), stressing the “need to put value on everyone’s well-being.”
“Investing in the health sector is never a cost to be endured, but an opportunity to be explored.”
“We all know how hard it is nowadays to have a family member who gets sick and hospitalized because most of us, especially the poor, don’t have health insurance,” he said.
Gonzales recalled how Go, as former special assistant to the President, started the Malasakit Center which, he said, took inspiration from the Pagkalinga sa Davao project of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, which she established in 2017.
In 2001, the President, who was then mayor of Davao City, initiated the “Lingap Para sa Mahirap”, which provided medical and financial assistance to his constituents.
The program was included in the services offered by the Pagkalinga sa Bayan Center, alongside other government institutions such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and the Office of the President Fund.
Gonzales said it was Go who suggested to the President to roll out Malasakit Centers nationwide. The pilot Malasakit Center was launched at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City in February of 2018.
“It was Go who suggested to the President to roll out Malasakit Centers nationwide.”
Malasakit Centers in government hospitals are a big help for patients as they now have a “one-stop shop in seeking for medical-financial assistance,” Gonzales told the Liga members.
“These unified agencies will each contribute an amount that will ultimately reduce the hospital bill even down to zero,” he said.
Before the project came into existence, patients had to go to various offices and agencies to ask for financial assistance and seek endorsements from politicians before these offices even entertain their request, the OPAV official said.
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino, head of the project’s nationwide roll-out, told Philippine News Agency in a separate interview that the administration has been able to open 23 Malasakit Centers in different parts of the country.
Of this number, nine are in government hospitals in Luzon, seven in the Visayas, and another seven are in Mindanao.