CREDIT-GRABBING GONZAGA: BONG GO CANNOT CLAIM SOLE CREDIT FOR MALASAKIT CENTER

By ROGER M. BALANZA

Apparently wallowing in envy, a Davao de Oro congressman said he should also be credited for the Malasakit Center being one of the co-authors of the proposed law in the House of Representatives.

Records of the House of Representatives do not show Gonzaga as co-author of House Bill 5477

The credit-grabbing posturing of Davao de Oro Second District Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, comes as the Malasakit Center program draws tsunamis of praises for its originator Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Dili man nang Malasakit Center mahimo nga balaod kung si Senator Bong Go lang (The Malasakit Center could not have become a law with only Senator Bong Go),” said Gonzaga in a radio interview.

One of the most visible flagship health programs of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Malasakit Center concept was initially recommended to the House by originator Senator Go, who eventually authored the Senate bill that institutionalized the landmark health program.

The Malasakit Center concept was patterned by Senator Go from the “Lingap sa Mahirap” program implemented by the then Davao City Mayor Duterte. The senator was the chief aide during the 20 years of the Duterte mayorship.

About one hundred fifty one-stop-shop Malasakit Centers have already been established in government hospitals nationwide, with in-house public assistance units of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),  Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the host Local Government Unit (LGU) extending financial and hospitalization assistance to indigent patients.

Being a co-author of the Malasakit Center bill in the House, Gonzaga said he should be credited for benefits from the program that trickle down to his contintuents in Davao de Oro and nationwide, said Gonzaga in the interview with a Tagum City-based radio station.

While Gonzaga claimed he co-authored the Malasakit Center measure, his name does not appear in the records of the House as a co-author. The sponsors of the proposed bill were Reps. Joey Salceda, Wes Gatchalian, Angelina Tan and Emmarie Ouano-Dizon

House Bill 5477 (AN ACT ESTABLISHING MALASAKIT CENTERS IN ALL DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (DOH) HOSPITALS IN THE COUNTRY AND IN THE PHILIPPINE GENERAL HOSPITAL (PGH), PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES) was approved by the house on November 2019 with 185 affirmative votes, one negative vote, and seven abstentions.  

The Senate approved also in November 2019 , Senate Bill No. 1076, otherwise known as the Malasakit Center Act.

Gonzaga claimed credit for the Malasakit Center as he disputed the alleged claim of Davao de Oro senior Provincial Board member Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy that the Second District congressman has not delivered health services to his indigent constituents.

The Malasakit Center could not have become a law with only Senator Bong Go, said Gonzaga as the election fever for the May 9 polls heats up in the province, with politicians trumpeting report cards to lure voters.

Gonzaga, regional chair of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban), has isolated himself from the ruling party chaired by President Duterte, and has organized a hybrid slate with the opposition Reporma party.

He has firmed up his position as anti-Duterte administration by alligning with Davao del Norte First Fistrict Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, resigned PDP-Laban secretary general and now chairman of Reporma, who turned severe critic of former political ally President Duterte.

In the Davao de Oro battle field, Gonzaga has fileded in the gubernatorial his political neophyte wife, former justice of the Court of Appeals Dorothy Gonzaga, under the Reporma banner against comebacking former governor Chiongkee Uy who is running under thebanner of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) of vice presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Chiongkee Uy has been all praise for the Malasakit Center in his campaign sorties while hitting at apparent lack of concern for the health programs of Gonzaga.

“Pasalamatan niya si Bong Go, pasalamatan niya si Presidente Digong, and yet dili niya kayang isulti, Salamat Cong, Ruwel nga isa ka sa mga authors sa Malasakit Center diha sa Lower. Dili man nang Malasakit Center mahimo nga balaod kung si Senator Bong Go lang (Chiongkee thanks Bong Go, thanks President Duterte but could not thank me for being a co-author of the Malasakit Center. The Malasakit Center could not have become a law with only Senator Bong Go),” Gonzaga said.

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