PRRD signs landmark law establishing Malasakit Centers nationwide; also approves postponement of barangay and SK elections
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law two bills that institutionalize the Malasakit Centers and postpone the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to December 2022. A ceremonial signing was held in Malacañang on Tuesday, December 3.
In his speech, the President said he is “elated and grateful” with the two laws, which he called “vital in realizing meaningful and lasting reform for the good of our nation.”
The two laws, which are the first to be passed in the 18th Congress, were both major items in the legislative agenda of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go during the campaign period. The bills that the Senator filed in July, right after assuming office, served as bases for the two laws.
Considered as a landmark piece of legislation, Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Center Act of 2019, mandates the establishment of Malasakit Centers in 73 hospitals that are run by the Department of Health (DOH) all over the country and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
“The Malasakit Center is one of the solutions the Duterte government has developed to provide quick and quality access to healthcare to all Filipinos, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic background, religion and political affiliation,” Go said in his past statements.
The Malasakit Center, intended to be a one-stop shop, consolidates the financial assistance that patients may apply for from four government agencies, namely, the DOH, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
“With the Malasakit Center Act in place to complement the Universal Health Care Law, we are a step closer towards making quality health care more accessible and affordable for all Filipinos, especially the indigent and poor patients in need of medical assistance from the government,” Go said.
Go expressed his gratitude hours before the ceremonial signing of the laws, when he attended the opening of the 52nd Malasakit Center in the country at the Ospital ng Malabon in Malabon City.
“Pera niyo po ito. Ibinabalik lang sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyong medikal para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” he said.
President Duterte himself credited Go on several occasions for giving him the idea of opening Malasakit Centers, when Go was still the Special Assistant to the President.
Go sponsored the Malasakit Center Bill in the Senate, while his bill on the postponement of the village elections were consolidated with the bills of other senators.
Republic Act No. 11462, meanwhile, sets the next barangay and SK elections 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 barangay 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 explained.
The President asked Congress to prioritize both bills when he delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22, 2019.