MANILA — To preempt possible spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD) and as preparation for similar situations that may occur in the future, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Tuesday, February 11, that he will push for the establishment of quarantine facilities in all 73 hospitals all over the country that are retained by the Department of Health (DOH).
“I’m planning to file a bill na maglalagay tayo ng separate quarantine facilities sa lahat ng mga DOH-run hospitals or kung kakailanganin po ay hiwalay na lote or structure doon sa may ospital,” Go told reporters in an interview in Caloocan City, where he distributed financial and relief assistance to victims of a fire.
“Paghahanda ito hindi lang sa posibleng pagkalat ng nCoV. Kung saka-sakaling meron pang dumating ay handa na po tayo at hindi na po tayo magtuturuan sa ibang lugar na ayaw naman nilang tanggapin, at para magkaroon na rin po ng peace of mind ang bawat isang mamamayan natin sa kanya-kanyang lugar,” Go added, referring to the difficulty of the government in finding quarantine facilities for the Filipinos from Hubei province in China who decided to return home.
Go, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, said that he will seek the help of President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure the passage of this measure. “I will also ask the President for support. Kakailanganin naman natin ‘to sa ngayon. Kita niyo naman sa ibang bansa madali silang nakakagawa ng structure. Bakit hindi natin kayang gawin ito?”
The Filipinos from Hubei are currently staying at the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac for a fourteen-day quarantine. “Ngayon nagagamit pa ang Athletes’ Village. Para po ‘yun sa mga atleta. Ginagamit natin sa quarantine purposes sa ngayon. Kung meron na tayong separate quarantine area at facilities, ang mga ito ay primarily for that purpose only,” Go said.
The Senator said he will file the bill as soon as possible and will urge his colleagues in the Senate and concerned agencies to support the measure.
“I will request that the measure be certified as urgent. Huwag na natin antayin pang magkandarapa tayo na maghanap na naman ng pasilidad. What if it will spread in Mindanao? Meron po tayo dapat na handang pasilidad na nandidiyan po ang mga doctor dahil malapit lang po sa mga DOH-run hospitals,” he also said.
In the meantime, the Senator calls for immediate identification of quarantine facilities in DOH-run and provincial hospitals. “Kailangan na nating magkaroon ng identified quarantine facilities in each region or maybe in each province, especially po ‘yung mga sentro dahil unang-una, hindi naman natin malalaman kung sino po ‘yung matatamaan,” he said, adding that the government should always be proactive in dealing with these kinds of crisis situations.
“Kung kakailanganin, magrenta tayo for the meantime kung sakaling dumami talaga (ang Persons Under Investigation),” he added.
Meanwhile, Go extended assistance to Caloocan City residents who lost their homes on February 6 in a fire that started at No. 151 on 9th Avenue, Barangay 63, eventually spreading to Barangay 59 and affecting 75 families in both barangays.
Aside from giving the victims financial and relief assistance, Go offered to provide for the fare of those who want to relocate to the provinces and for the uniforms and school supplies of the affected children.
He also offered to assist in the medical needs of the residents, even those who are not affected by the fire. “Sa mga nangangailangang magpa-opera, magpa-dialysis o may cancer, ako na hong magpapagamot sa inyo. Yung mga bill ninyo sa ospital, tutulong po kami,” Go said.
He explained that patients can now easily ask for help at the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
He also mentioned that Malasakit Centers had been opened at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, and in the cities of Valenzuela and Novaliches.
So far, 62 Malasakit Centers have been opened in different parts of the country, and the Malasakit Center Act of 2019, which was based on the bill that Go filed in the Senate, mandates the establishment of a Malasakit Center in each of the DOH-run hospitals in the country. Local government-run hospitals may also have their own Malasakit Centers provided they meet the minimum standards and set criteria.
Aside from the assistance from Go, the fire victims also received various kinds of aid from the DSWD, DOH, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
In his speech, Go asked the residents of Caloocan to continue supporting the government’s three-point campaign against illegal drugs, crimes and corruption. “Galit kami ni Pangulong Duterte sa mga kriminal at durugista,” he said.