President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed two bills institutionalizing the Malasakit Centers and postponing the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections (BSKE) to December 2022. A ceremonial signing took place in Malacañang on Tuesday, December 3.

Senator Lawrence “Bong” Go filed the bills in the 18th Congress immediately after he assumed office in July. In his past statements, the senator said that the Malasakit Center is one of the solutions the Duterte administration has developed to provide quick and quality access to healthcare to all Filipinos, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic background, religion, and political affiliation.

Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 consolidates the financial services that patients may apply for from the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The law mandates the establishment of Malasakit Centers, intended to be one-stop shops, in 73 hospitals run by the health department nationwide and in the Philippine General Hospital in the country’s capital.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Ceremonial Signing of Malasakit Center Act and Postponement of the 2020 Barangay and SK Elections Act

Go said that the Malasakit Center Act complements the Universal Health Care Law. “We are a step closer towards making quality healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Filipinos, especially the indigent and poor patients in need of medical assistance from the government,” he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte with Senator Lawrence “Bong” Go during the ceremonial signing of the two laws

Hours before the signing of the laws, Go attended the opening of the 52nd Malasakit Center in the Philippines at the Ospital ng Malabon. “Pera niyo po ito. Ibinabalik lang sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos, at maaasahang serbisyong medikal para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” Go said.

On several occasions, the President himself credited then Special Assistant to the President Go for giving him the idea of opening Malasakit Centers.

Go sponsored the Malasakit Center Bill, while his bill on the postponement of the BSKE was consolidated with bills filed by other senators.

Meanwhile, Republic Act No. 11462 resets the BSKE from the second Monday of May 2020 to December 5, 2022, and then on the first Monday of December 2025 and every three years thereafter. The law extends the term of the current village and SK officials from two years to four years and a half.

“Mga barangays natin ang pinaka-frontline ng ating gobyerno sa paghahatid ng serbisyo at sa kampanya natin laban sa iligal na droga at kriminalidad. Kaya dapat lang na mabigyan natin sila ng oportunidad at sapat na oras upang makapagpatupad ng kani-kanilang mga programa at proyekto,” Go said.

The newly-signed laws were among the priority bills identified by the President in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22, 2019. (AJC/LMO)

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