The 58th Malasakit Center in the country was formally opened at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center on Tuesday.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go led the inauguration and awarded an initial PHP5-million check to the facility.

Go later led the distribution of calamity assistance worth PHP43 million to thousands of families in Cagayan that were affected by past typhoons, monsoon rains and floods.

The recipients included the Cagayan provincial government, which received PHP10 million worth of assistance, and the towns of Abulug, Ballesteros, Pamplona, Sanchez Mira, Allacapan, Lasam, Sta. Praxedes, Tuao, Claveria, Aparri and city of Tuguegarao, which received PHP3-million worth of assistance each.

“Life will be easier for the people. Before, you have to line up for hours or for days. On Monday, you queue at the Governor’s Office or the PCSO. On Tuesday, you line up at the DOH. On Wednesday, you are going to the DSWD and on Thursday, you queue at the Philhealth,” Go said as he noted of the benefits of the Malasakit Center to poor people, who previously had to go to various government agencies in asking for financial assistance.

“These agencies will help you but you have to pay for the excess of your bills. Now, the Malasakit Center will answer for it,” Go said, adding that he would even be willing to help shoulder major operations.

He said the government targets “zero-balance billing” for poor hospital patients.

Governor Manuel Mamba said the calamity assistance and Malasakit Center programs show the senator’s fulfillment of his campaign promises.

Go authored the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 to institutionalize the establishment of the said one-stop help centers in all government-run hospitals to cover more Filipino patients, especially in providing medical and financial assistance to indigent and financially-incapacitated patients.

Saying that the program is not politically motivated, Go hoped that it will be continued even after President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends.

If the hospitals in the region are not capable of treating a patient, he said he would also help finance the fare and lodging expenses in Manila. (PNA)