LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
SUBLIME idiocy can surprisingly emerge from an idle mind. Sen Christopher “Bong” Go was busy going around the country setting up Malasakit Centers where it is most needed by people who are deprived of decent medical and financial assistance and out of the blue Albay Congressman Edcel Lagman questioned the social outreach program which neophyte Senator Bong had conceptualized 20 plus years ago in Davao City and wanted to institutionalized now that sits as a legislator.
Lagman wants Congress to conduct a probe of the Malasakit Centers which, according to him, is being used to advance the political interest of Bong. Shooting from the hips he also branded MC as partisan in extending assistance to the patients it purports to help. Lagman has a very dirty mind and suspected that the senator’s social responsibility program is shady. Wasn’t Lagman the same lawmaker from Albay whom a bishop wanted to be investigated for some shady deals and another bishop who said the congressman just excommunicated himself from the Catholic Church?
Bong Go gave Lagman a tongue-lashing something which should bring back to some sense and sensibility. In his maiden privilege speech as a senator, Bong actually left out some very important issues which, I suspect, he intentionally excluded because it would sound self-serving. But I know Bong up close and I will reveal the rest.
Malasakit Center is actually patterned after “Lingap Center” which he, as executive assistant to then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, established to orderly facilitate financial and medical assistance to indigent patients in Davao City. Lingap initially caters only to residents of the city but words about how Lingap extends help to patients brought to hospitals in Davao for emergency treatment spread to adjoining provinces. Lingap became a byword and frankly, I am amazed how Bong and Mayor Duterte were able to sustain the operations of Lingap Center.
It would shock the likes of Lagman that aside from Lingap, Duterte set-up a special clinic for children afflicted with cancer adjacent to the Southern Philippines Medical Center in the city. Like Lingap, it was originally for cancer patients in the city. Today, cancer-stricken children from all over Mindanao and even from the Visayas sought free treatment in the clinic which also provides free shelter for the patients’ parents. About 80 percent of child patients survived the scourge. While Duterte, even now that he is President would regularly pay a visit to the clinic and spends Christmas party with them, it is Bong Go who sees to it that the needs of the clinic are sufficiently provided.
It should also interest critics that in Duterte’s war on drugs in Davao, part of his arsenals are two drug rehabilitation centers. For heads of families who are into drugs and submit themselves for rehab, they are given an allowance of P2,000 a month for the upkeep of their families. For those members of the syndicates who opt to fight it out with the law, they have a proper place to stay.
I personally understand how Senator Bong felt when Rep. Lagman discredited Malasakit Center. His heart is into it and wanted this institutionalized via legislation. But in the meantime, he sees to it that the Centers are functioning. Bong is service-oriented and yes, he forgot that he is now a senator. He has no rest day in fact. To his credit, however, he has crafted several bills more than the old guards had but still, he managed to bring government closer to the people. To the masses that is what is most relevant.
And by the way, if people think the way Lagman does that only patients under the roof of the center are being attended to, they are absolutely wrong. But I do not blame them for their ignorance. As Presidential Assistant, Bong and the President silently extends financial assistance to patients in dire need of specialized medical facilities and had to be brought to private hospitals. I am not allowed to divulge this act of charity and compassion but maybe those who were recipients of this benevolence may speak up.
By the way Albay is among the first region where a Malasakit Center was established. Political and partisan tools? Far from it and Edcel Lagman should be grateful instead of being ingrate.
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.