Bring public health services closer

“Health is the greatest of human blessings,” according to Hippocrates, father of Modern Medicine. That is why we continue to make significant strides in improving our health system.

The latest of which is the signing into law of the Regional Specialty Centers Act. As the principal sponsor and one of the authors of this measure, I am grateful to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., for approving and prioritizing this legislation which will help bring specialized medical care closer to Filipinos in various regions, and hopefully to the most vulnerable groups in grassroots communities.

As we aim to make public health more accessible, we must continue such efforts to ensure all Filipinos get the healthcare they deserve. In line with this, the Malasakit Centers we initiated in 2018 have already provided financial medical assistance to more than seven million patients so far. There are 158 Malasakit centers established all over the country through the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which I principally authored and sponsored in the Senate.

I have also continuously pushed for the establishment of Super Health Centers, which are medium versions of a polyclinic and improved versions of the rural health unit, to make healthcare more accessible to Filipinos even in remote areas. These centers, funded with the help of my fellow legislators and primarily implemented by the Department of Health, shall provide primary health care services in communities that also include consultation, diagnosis, and early detection of diseases.

As chair of the Senate Health Committee, I must emphasize the need to bring public health services closer to the people who need them the most. The enactment of the Regional Specialty Centers Act, along with the continuing operations of Malasakit Centers and the establishment of more Super Health Centers nationwide will hopefully bridge this gap and further promote the health and well-being of Filipinos no matter where they are in the country.

As a legislator and public servant, I will continue to help improve public service delivery at the grassroots to the best of my capacity so that no Filipino is neglected when it comes to availing government services they need. That is why aside from the health initiatives mentioned above, I also continue to visit communities to deliver assistance, listen to their concerns, and provide solutions to their daily struggles.

We were in Laguna on August 25 to inspect the Siniloan Sports Complex which was funded through our efforts as part of our goal as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports to promote grassroots sports development and divert our youth from harmful vices like illegal drugs. We then inspected the Isolation Facility of the Infirmary Hospital which we supported during the Duterte administration. We also led the distribution of aid to 500 impoverished residents of Siniloan together with Vice Governor Karen Agapay, Mayor Patrick Go, Vice Mayor Carla Valderrama, and other local officials.

Last weekend, I also joined fellow officials and basketball enthusiasts alike in supporting Gilas Pilipinas during the 2023 FIBA World Cup. I commend everyone who took part in ensuring the successful hosting of the FIBA World Cup here in the Philippines.

We were invited as a guest speaker on 24 August at the Gender and Development Activity organized by the Provincial Council of Occidental Mindoro. We support these kinds of discussions that aim to promote equal and gender-sensitive leadership.

On 23 August, I received the prestigious Apostle Arsenio Ferriol Award of Excellence for Public Service and Governance. I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch) for this very prestigious recognition. With or without an award, I will continue my mission to serve fellow Filipinos, knowing very well that service to the people is service to God. Aside from the awarding ceremony, I also joined them yesterday for their 50th Golden Church Anniversary celebration in New Clark City, Tarlac.

I also visited Navotas City on 22 August, together with Mayor John Rey Tiangco and Vice Mayor Tito Sanchez to help 1,000 senior citizens, PWDs, and indigents. We also provided additional support to 1,328 recovering fire victims who were given aid from the National Housing Authority to buy housing materials through their Emergency Housing Assistance Program that we initiated before and continue to support its implementation now. We were also instrumental in the construction of nine public school buildings in Navotas City, some of which we were able to inspect during our visit.

My office also continues to assist Filipinos affected by calamities. Among those assisted were typhoon victims in various towns in Cagayan — 500 in Gonzaga; 500 residents in Aparri; 500 in Allacapan; 500 in Pamplona; 500 in Ballesteros; and 500 more in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.

More support was also provided for 35 indigents from different towns of Cotabato Province plus 110 sectoral members in Libungan town; three fire victims of Brgy. Peñaplata in Samal Island; 1,000 residents of Sibalom and almost 250 in Tobias Fornier in Antique; 1,000 beneficiaries in Polomolok, South Cotabato; 66 residents of Malolos Bulacan; 31 residents of General Tinio and 140 more in Gapan, Nueva Ecija.

We also extended livelihood support to 14 indigents in Cauayan, Negros Occidental; three farmers in San Lorenzo, Guimaras; and 52 residents of Brgy. Tisa, Cebu City who were previously victims of a fire incident. They were also provided aid through DTI’s Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (PPG) program, which I pushed for before and continue to support now to boost the livelihood of those affected by various crises.

Furthermore, I am also thankful to the President for signing the following into law: Republic Act No. 11961, which I co-authored, amending the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, and mandates the creation of a Philippine Registry of Heritage; RA 11958, which I co-authored, that amends RA 6948 to rationalize the disability pension provided to military veterans; and the One Town, One Product Philippines Program, which I authored and co-sponsored, to support the growth of the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises.

While we have accomplished a lot in the past few days in helping those in need and pushing for policies that would uplift the lives of fellow Filipinos, our work must not stop as long as there are more of our kababayans who rely on us for support. As public servants, let us continue to bring the government and its services closer to the people while working together so that no one is left behind toward recovery and progress.

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