A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao (OPAMINE) and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) as both offices would be joining forces in the implementation of the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

A total of 6 million housing units will be constructed with 1 million houses per year for the next six years of the Marcos administration.

In the MOU signed into by OPAMINE head Sec. Leo Tereso Magno and DHSUD Sec. Jose Rizalino Acuzar on the afternoon of February 16, 2023, both officials agreed to help each other in ensuring that the mega-housing project would benefit the homeless especially in OPAMINE’s area of Regions 11, 12 and 13.

DHSUD and OPAMINE will be coordinating with each other in the identification of qualified properties and beneficiaries, monitoring of the implementation of the housing project, among others.

In his short message during the signing, Sec. Magno assured Mindanaoans of their fair share of the housing program of President Marcos considering that there are still considerable number of Filipino families in Mindanao that do not own a house.

“This administration knows that we have to build houses to foster homes. Good homes would mean better Filipinos. Better Filipinos would pave the way for a better Philippines. We hope that this massive housing project of the Marcos administration would pave the way for a better life for all of us, most especially those who truly need and deserve to be given a better chance in life,” Sec. Magno said.

“Thus I thank the DHSUD for partnering with us to give homeless families in Eastern Mindanao a better home, a better future. Rest assured that OPAMIN Eastern will tediously do our responsibilities and obligations to faithfully execute the implementation of the project in Regions 11, 12 and 13,” the Dabawenyo secretary ended. (OPAMIN Eastern)


Bong Go aids fire victims in Koronadal City, South Cotabato

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go continues to help communities in distress and promote better fire prevention and response measures as he sent his team to assist fire victims in Koronadal City, South Cotabato on Friday, February 10.

In his video message, Go cited that the government continues to strengthen its fire prevention efforts through the Bureau of Fire Protection’s modernization program.

The senator principally authored and co-sponsored Republic Act No. 11589 or the BFP Modernization Act which mandates acquiring modern fire equipment, hiring more fire personnel, and provisioning of training programs, among others.

It also directs the BFP to conduct monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives in every local government unit, particularly in informal settlements and economically depressed areas.

“Sa pag-iikot ko ng bansa, marami na po kaming napuntahan na mga nasunugan. Kaya naman alam natin kung gaano kahalaga para sa ating BFP na palakasin ang kanilang kapasidad sa pagpugsa ng sunog sa mga komunidad,” underscored Go.

“Napakalaki ng tiwala ko na palalakasin pa lalo ng BFP ang ating fire protection efforts. Karagdagang kagamitan, firefighters at education campaigns para turuan ang ating mga kababayan na mag-ingat, ‘yan po ang BFP Modernization Act. Dahil bawat bahay na nasusunog, nadadamay ang kapitbahay. Kaya dapat doble ingat tayo,” he said.

To give support and hope to the 13 fire victims whose houses were damaged by the fire incident, Go’s team gave them grocery packs, shirts, vitamins, masks, snacks, and a ball for basketball. The activity was held at Purok Callejo, Brgy. General Paulino Santos Hall.

Representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development also provided cash assistance as part of the government interventions to uplift the lives of Filipinos in crisis situations.

Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, also offered to help those in need of medical care to ensure the victims’ well-being. He encouraged them to visit the Malasakit Centers located at South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in the city and Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital in General Santos City.

Under the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which was principally authored and sponsored by Go, all hospitals that are administered and managed by the Department of Health plus the Philippine General Hospital in Manila City are mandated to have their own Malasakit Center that shall provide convenient access to medical programs offered by concerned agencies, such as the DSWD, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

To date, there are 154 Malasakit Centers that have already assisted more than seven million Filipinos nationwide according to the DOH. The program celebrated its fifth year anniversary on February this year.

Go noted how the country’s healthcare system struggled due to the global health crisis. He then underscored the need to improve access to public healthcare services to ensure that more disadvantaged Filipinos will receive the medical attention they need. 

In this regard, the senator supported the establishment of Super Health Centers in the province, including in the towns of Lake Sebu and Tampakan in 2022. Another center will be established in Tampakan in 2023.

Super Health Centers are medium versions of polyclinics and are bigger than rural health units, which offer basic services such as out-patient, birthing, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory: x-ray, ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit.

Other available services are eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) service, oncology centers, physical therapy and rehabilitation center and telemedicine, where remote diagnosis and treatment of patients will be done.

Through Go’s initiative, some 307 SHCs were funded in 2022. The senator likewise earlier successfully pushed for sufficient funds for the centers in this year’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the DOH.

To help create more opportunities for the province amid difficult situations, Go, who also serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, has supported the construction of roads in Banga, Lake Sebu, Norala, Tantangan and Surallah; acquisition of a dump truck for the local government of Norala; construction of riverbank protection in Koronadal City and T’boli; installation of street lights in Koronadal City, Norala and Tupi; and the construction of a slaughterhouse in T’boli.

“Basta, ‘wag kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa amin. Huwag din kayong magpasalamat sa amin dahil trabaho naman namin ito sa gobyerno. Kami ang nagpapasalamat sa inyo dahil binigyan niyo kami ng pagkakataon para makapagserbisyo sa taumbayan. Ibabalik namin sa inyo ang serbisyong dapat sa inyo sa abot ng aming makakaya,” pledged Go.

Paolo Duterte, FPRRD visit loved ones’ grave during Vicente Duterte’s death anniversary

DAVAO CITY — First Congressional District Representative Paolo Duterte and his father, former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, paid their respects to the latter’s parents’ graves last week in this city.

They visited the tombs of Vicente and Soledad Duterte at the Roman Catholic Cemetery here to commemorate the former’s 111h birth anniversary. Paolo and his father were seen lighting candles and offering prayers for their departed loved ones.

It has been the tradition of the Duterte family to visit the graves of their loved ones during their respective birth and death anniversaries.

Vicente Gonzales Duterte, the former President’s father, was born on November 23, 1911 in Danao, Cebu where he had served as mayor. Vicente later became governor of the then unified province of Davao. He was the last to serve as governor of Davao when it was still a single political entity.

Former President Duterte’s mother, Soledad or Nanay Soling as she was fondly called, was a public school teacher involved in socio-civic projects in Davao.

Last November 1 and 2, the Office of Rep. Duterte in this city marked All Saints Day and All Souls Day, respectively, by distributing about 1,000 food packs to families living near the cemetery.

According to the First Congressional District Office, the distribution of the food packs focused on the “poorest of the poor” in Barangay 8A. ###

Bong Go underscores importance of strengthened fire prevention efforts as he personally aids fire victims in Malabon City

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go visited Malabon City on Friday, October 21, and personally spearheaded a relief activity for its fire victims.

In his speech, the senator reminded the public to be more vigilant and follow fire safety guidelines to reduce the risk of similar incidents.

“Ang gamit po’y nabibili, ang pera po ay kikitain. Subalit ‘yung perang kikitain ay hindi po nabibili ang buhay. A lost life is a lost life forever. Kaya mag-ingat po tayo,” Go urged.

“Pangalagaan po natin ang buhay ng bawat isa. Napapansin ninyo ‘pag nasunugan, ‘pag nasunog ang isang bahay, nadadamay po ‘yung kapitbahay. Kaya ingat po tayo. Importante po ang buhay ng bawat isa,” he underscored.

Go and his staff distributed grocery packs, canned goods, vitamins, masks, meals, shirts, and umbrellas to 139 fire-hit households at the Tonsuya Barangay Hall. They also gave away cellular phones, watches and shoes to select individuals.

In addition, the senator provided others with bicycles and balls for basketball and volleyball as part of his commitment to encourage Filipinos, especially the youth, to get into sports and stay away from illegal drugs and other vices.

“Gusto ko pong iengganyo ang mga kabataan na get into sports, stay away from drugs. Isa po ‘yan sa pamamaraan na patuloy nating labanan ang iligal na droga sa pamamaraan na pag-engganyo sa mga kabataan to get into sports, stay away from drugs. Tulungan n’yo po ang gobyerno, layuan po natin ang iligal na droga,” appealed Go.

“Kapag mayroon pong biktima ng droga sa pamilya, isa lang po, maniwala kayo na sira na po agad ang pamilya. Please lang po, ilayo po natin ang mga kabataan sa iligal na droga. Get into sports, stay away from drugs. Huwag po nating sayangin ang inumpisahan ni (dating) pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte na labanan po ang iligal na droga. Para naman po ‘yan sa kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak,” he reiterated.

To help the affected families recover faster, the Department of Social Welfare and Development likewise extended financial aid through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.

Meanwhile, as part of the senator’s advocacy to ensure communities, particularly those in far-flung areas, are more protected from fire-related incidents, Go primarily authored and co-sponsored the Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act of 2021.

The modernization program includes the acquisition of new fire equipment, hiring of more personnel, and provision of highly specialized training programs, among others.

The BFP is also mandated to conduct monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives in every local government unit, especially in informal settlements, economically depressed areas and far-flung communities.

To ensure the public’s health and well-being are looked after, Senator Go, who serves as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, offered medical assistance to those with health issues.

He also encouraged the fire victims in need of medical attention to seek the services of the nearest Malasakit Centers located at Ospital ng Malabon or San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital, both in the city.

The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop which brings together under one roof the agencies from which patients may seek medical assistance, namely, the DSWD, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The centers have assisted millions of poor and indigent patients since Go launched the program in 2018. He also principally authored and sponsored Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, institutionalizing the program. There are currently 152 Malasakit Centers nationwide.

“Huwag n’yo nang tagalan, pa-checkup na kaagad kayo sa ospital at huwag n’yo na hong alalahanin ang babayaran ninyo sa ospital. Tutulungan ho namin kayo. Ang importante po masalba lang natin ang buhay ninyo,” urged Go.

Go likewise extended his support to the establishment of two Super Health Centers in the city that will be located in Barangays Longos and Tonsuya.

“Ito pong tinatawag na Super Health Center mas malaki lang po siya sa Rural Health Unit, mas maliit sa hospital. Halimbawa emergency cases, dental, panganganak, magagamot po kaagad. Maglalagay po ng dalawang Super Health Center dito sa Malabon, dito po sa Longos at tsaka sa Tonsuya Super Health Center po dito sa inyong lugar. Magkakaroon kayo ng bagong Super Health Center po,” he explained.

Advocated by Go, Super Health Centers are medium versions of polyclinics and are bigger than rural health units, which offer basic services such as out-patient, birthing, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory: x-ray, ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit, among others. There will be 307 Super Health Centers to be established by the DOH in various parts of the country this year.

Ending his message, the senator lauded all local officials for their quick response to the incident and support they provided to the affected residents.

“Nandirito po ako para tumulong, makapagbigay ng solusyon sa inyong problema, at makaiwan po ng kaunting ngiti sa panahon ng inyong pagdadalamhati,” said Go.

“Nakakawala ng pagod kapag nakikita ko po kayo na tumatawa rin po. Kahit nasunugan tayo ang importante po buhay tayo. Mga taga-Malabon, mga minamahal kong kababayan, mahal ko po kayong lahat. Salamat po,” he concluded.

Operation Smile launches Women in Medicine in Asia

Operation Smile’s all-female team of volunteer cleft care professionals from 12 countries celebrate the close of the six-day educational and medical mission they mounted in Cebu City recently to launch “Women in Medicine” in Asia.

The multinational team conducted a one-day forum on women empowerment in the health profession followed by five days of free surgeries on 59 children with cleft lip and cleft palate at the Cebu City Medical Center.

Operation Smile co-founder and president, Kathleen Magee, flew in from the U.S. to lead the launch.
Women in Medicine is a new global initiative that seeks to encourage women to join the health care profession, and empower them to take leadership roles in their respective fields. It is also being piloted in Africa and in South America.

The program was created in response to the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) for women to drive the transformational change in global health care.

Women comprise 70% of health professionals but occupy only 25% of leadership positions. WHO had said the world needs 18 million more health professionals to achieve universal health coverage. In the Philippines, the gap in health professionals is 290,000. (PR)