Spreading festive cheer to his fellow Filipinos, especially during Christmas day, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go visited Balay Pahulayan, a temporary resting area for patients’ watchers, at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City on Wednesday, December 25.

“Alam niyo po, itong Bahay Pahulayan, itinatag ni Pangulong Duterte para may pahingaan ‘yung mga watchers ng pasyente. Dito na po ako mag-celebrate ng aking Pasko. Mamimigay ng konting pamasko at pagkain sa kanila, lalo na ang daming mga tao rito na hindi taga-Davao, ‘yung iba galing pa Bukidnon at Surigao. At least, may pahingaan sila rito,” the senator said.

“Sabi ko nga lagyan ng mattress para lalo silang maging komportable. Sa initiative niya na ito, makikita mo talaga ang puso ni Pangulo, lalo na sa mga mahihirap,” he added, emphasizing how the Duterte administration prioritizes vulnerable sectors that need government attention the most.

During his visit, the senator offered holiday greetings, gamely posed for photos and delivered gift bags and other kinds of assistance to patients and their watchers. He also thanked everyone for their continuous support for the Duterte administration.

“Maraming salamat po sa inyong patuloy na suporta. Binabati ko po kayo ng Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” Go said.

The senator also interacted with some of the watchers, lifting their spirits on Christmas day despite the struggles they are going through. He urged them to avail of various assistance from the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop that streamlines the provision of medical and financial assistance from concerned government agencies and offices as part of the senator’s advocacy to improve the public health system.

“Nandidiyan na po ang apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno na handang magbigay ng tulong sa lahat ng mga Pilipino, kahit hindi po kayo taga-Davao. Basta Pilipino ka, tutulungan ka nitong Malasakit Center,” he said.

The agencies present in these hospital hubs are the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

The process of seeking assistance has also been simplified through the Malasakit Unified Form, which means there is only one form to fill up for Filipinos requesting assistance.

“Noon kailangan pa ninyong pumila sa iba’t ibang opisina. Ubos na ang panahon ninyo, ubos pa ang pamasahe ninyo. Ngayon dahil may Malasakit Center na tayo, magtutulungan (ang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno) para sa inyo,” Go said.

With the aim of reducing to the lowest amount possible the hospital bill balance of those seeking government help, the center provides financial assistance that covers patient services and expenses, such as laboratories, medicines, surgeries or operations, with the exemption of professional fees and private room accommodation. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities will also be prioritized in the centers through an express lane.

The senator added that also all DOH-run hospitals will now get their own Malasakit Centers with the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11463 by President Duterte early this month.

Meanwhile, in an ambush interview, Go expressed his optimism in government’s efforts to pursue peace, especially in Mindanao. But the senator also demanded sincerity on the side of the rebels, especially after several reports have come out about ambush attacks against government troops shortly after the unilateral ceasefire has been declared.

“Sa totoo lang po, I am for peace. Gusto ko po ng kapayapaan lalong lalo na sa Mindanao, with the Moro rebels, and with the Left. Si Pangulo gusto rin niyan ng long lasting peace. Ayaw niya kapwa Pilipino nagpapatayan tayo.”

“Isa rin po ako sa nilapitan ng Left leaders ukol sa peace. Suportado ko po ito. Iisa lang ang layunin natin, magkaroon ng long lasting peace sa bansa.

“But we have a problem right now. Nabalitaan ni Pangulo na nagkaroon ng ambush sa Camarines at Iloilo. May namatay at nasaktan after ng declaration ng unilateral ceasefire,” Go told, further saying that the President is now investigating if violations were committed in the said attacks.

“Ngayon interesado ang Pangulo kung may violation. Kung sakaling meron, hindi niyo masisi na i-terminate ng Pangulo ang unilateral ceasefire sa parte ng gobyerno,” he added.

“Ngayon, bine-verify ng Pangulo ang totoong nangyari.”

Ending his statement, Go urged the rebels to trust the President, recounting his experience in Davao when he and the President—then Davao mayor—would go to the lair of the rebels to negotiate the release of captive soldiers.

“Naaawa kami sa mga sundalo kapag binibisita namin sila, halos hindi na makapagsalita. ‘Yung mga misis at anak nila, nangungulila. Ayaw naming may pamilya pa na mawalan ng ama. Kapwa Pilipino naman tayo.”

“Kami ni Pangulo, nagtiwala sa Left. Umaakyat kami noon ng bundok sa Davao para kumuha ng bihag na sundao, walang bodyguard. Tiwala kami sa inyo. Magtiwala naman kayo sa gobyerno,” said Go.

“With all sincerity po, magtiwala kayo kay Pangulo. Pwede niyo siyang kausapin. Lagi siyang handang makinig sa inyo,” he ended, emphasizing the commitment of this administration to pursue peace and development all over the country.

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