SEN. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, has reiterated the importance of prioritizing one's health amid the ongoing global health crisis.

On Tuesday, June 21, the senator personally led a series of distribution activities for indigents in Lupon, Davao Oriental, where he encouraged residents to take advantage of the services of the nearest Malasakit Centers.

In his speech, he cited how the pandemic has been an eye-opener for everyone to value their health as he urged residents with health concerns to visit Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center where there is a Malasakit Center available to help with their medical-related expenses.

Go primarily authored and sponsored the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which mandates every hospital administered and managed by the Department of Health and the Philippine General Hospital in Manila to establish their own centers to assist poor and indigent patients in reducing their hospital bills to the lowest amount possible.

Hospitals run by local government units and other public hospitals may also establish their own centers provided that they meet a standard set of criteria in accordance with the law and guarantee the sustainability of their operations.

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There are now 151 Malasakit Centers nationwide.

The Malasakit Centers program is a brainchild of Go and was initiated in 2018 as part of the senator's commitment to strengthen and improve access to quality health services in the country.

Go spearheaded the distributions at Townsite covered court and Bagumbayan gymnasium for a total of 5,000 pandemic-affected residents.

His team handed out grocery packs, vitamins, shirts, meals and snacks.

The senator also gave phablets, watches and shoes to select individuals.

To promote sports participation among Filipinos, Go also handed out bicycles and balls for volleyball and basketball to others.

He said engaging in sports can significantly help in President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.

"Get into sports, stay away from drugs. Huwag natin sayangin ang naumpisahan na namin ni Presidente Duterte, ang kampanya laban sa iligal na droga, ginawa 'yan ni Presidente. Para 'yan sa kinabukasan ng ating mga anak at sa susunod pang henerasyon (Let us not waste what President Duterte has started, the campaign against illegal drugs, the President did that. That is for the future of our children and the next generations)," the senator said.

In a separate distribution, a team from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided affected households with financial assistance through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program to help them sustain their basic and daily necessities.

Go appealed to all of those eligible to participate in the national inoculation program.

He encouraged them to continue supporting the government's pandemic efforts, saying their cooperation and discipline play a crucial role in the recovery of the country.

Sharing how Lupon is close to his heart as it is where he spent some of his childhood years, Go reassured that his office is always open to extending necessary support to help the town and the whole province of Davao Oriental to build back better from the challenges brought by the pandemic.

"Lahat tayo may bisyo. Ako may bisyo rin ako at hindi ko ikakahiya ang bisyo ko dahil ang bisyo ko ay magserbisyo sa inyong lahat (All of us have our own vices. I myself have a vice and I am not ashamed of it because my vice is to serve all of you)," he said.

Meanwhile, as part of his commitment to make sure Filipinos can easily access health care services, the senator backed the construction of four Super Health Centers in the province.

Go, also vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, supported the rehabilitation of roads in several villages, installation of solar LED lights along the national road in Barangay Bagumbayan, and constructions of potable water systems in Barangay Bagumbayan and Barangay Lupon, flood mitigation structure along Sumlog River, and IP Community Learning Center in Barangay Don Mariano.

On the same day, Go also led another distribution activity for 1,000 more low-income residents of Lupon where a team from the DSWD then extended livelihood grants.