In first privilege speech, Bong Go slams 'epal' tag

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2019 06:21 PM | Updated as of Aug 28 2019 10:21 AM

MANILA - In his first ever privilege speech, neophyte Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go defended the Malasakit Center which an opposition lawmaker recently called as a “partisan tool.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman earlier called for a probe into the establishment of Malasakit Centers, a brainchild of Go, saying these have become a “partisan tool” whose creation has no legal basis.

But Go said the Malasakit Centers were only established to serve as a “one-stop shop” for indigent Filipinos seeking medical assistance from government.

In every Malasakit Center, representatives from various government agencies are present to help indigent patients obtain various documentary requirements.

“The program was designed to streamline and expedite the delivery of medical services for all Filipinos, especially to those who need them most,” Go said.

“Wala pong ‘Bong Go’ na logo dyan (There is no 'Bong Go' logo there). It is one of the solutions of the Duterte administration to provide quick and quality access to health care for all Filipinos regardless…of their political affiliation.”

Go stressed he was not using Malasakit Centers as a political tool, as the centers cater to people who need help, regardless of their political belief. 

“Hindi ito ‘Bong Go Center.’ Nagkataon lang na brainchild ko ang programang ito, ako lang ang naatasan ng pangulo para pangunahan ang programang ito,” he said.

(This is not "Bong Go Center." It just happened that I am the brainchild of this program and the President asked me to oversee its operations.)

“Hindi po gaya ng pulitikong bumabatikos sa Malasakit Center, wala po tayong balak maging epal.”

(Unlike the one criticizing the Malasakit Center, I have no intention to become "epal.")

Go, who has filed a bill seeking to institutionalize Malasakit Centers, also issued scathing remarks against Lagman.

He accused Lagman of having his constituents troop to his home just to avail of medical and financial assistance.

“Do not be anti-poor. Ang pera ng tao nararapat lang ibalik sa mga tao,” he said.

Go refused to be interpellated by his fellow senators in his first privilege speech.

Majority Sens. Aquilino Pimentel III, Manny Pacquiao, Sherwin Gatchalian, Ronald dela Rosa, and Francis Tolentino nonetheless issued their respective manifestations supporting Go.

Minority Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, came to Lagman’s defense.

“We may agree or disagree with what Rep. Lagman said, pero hindi naman siguro siya anti-poor,” Hontiveros said, noting that the Albay lawmaker pushed for pro-poor bills.