Gov. Malanyaon leads the cutting of the ribbon during the inauguration of the first ever PCSO branch here that would cater to the more than half a million people.

Gov. Malanyaon leads the cutting of the ribbon during the inauguration of the first ever PCSO branch here that would cater to the more than half a million people.

The state-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office is raining the province of Davao Oriental with lots of bonanza by donating seven ambulances and establishing its first ever branch office here that would cater to the more than half a million people.

Top officials of the PCSO from Manila, headed by its director, Francisco Joaquin, led the turnover ceremonies for the seven donated ambulances, including the blessing of its new office here which is their 50th branch in the whole country.

“The opening of this branch and the giving of these ambulances are really the fulfillment of our promise. It has been a long-standing promise of the PCSO to have a branch in every province and to have an ambulance in every municipality. Kulang pa ho kami, may darating pa,” says PCSO director Francisco Joaquin.

Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon is calling it a “bonanza from the most wanted government agency,” saying that the people of Davao Oriental, especially the indigents, will not have to travel for long hours to the regional economic center, Davao City, to ask for medical and financial assistance from the PCSO.

Ambulances donated by the PCSO to the different municipalities of Davao Oriental.

Ambulances donated by the PCSO to the different municipalities of Davao Oriental.

“It is with great pleasure to be made part of this special occasion which is the blessing of the office of the PCSO here in our province and of course yung much awaited, the turnover of a lot of ambulances. Medyo bonanza tayo ngayon, baka marami pang darating. The establishment of the PCSO office here can be considered as another milestone and a welcome development in the province because it is for the first time that we are going to have the most wanted office of the national agencies which is the PCSO. Your presence in our province institutionalizes our partnership in social services among others, so thank you. Thank you for the gesture and for all the support that you have already extended to our province especially to our constituents. And we hope to further strengthen our partnership as well as our symbiotic relationship,” Governor Malanyaon told the PCSO officials from Manila.

The provincial government has offered its property at the sprawling Capitol compound for the establishment of the PCSO branch office at the provincial capital, the City of Mati.

Top officials of the PCSO, Gov. Malanyaon, and mayors of different municipalities during the Ceremonial turn-over of ambulances.

Top officials of the PCSO, Gov. Malanyaon, and mayors of different municipalities during the Ceremonial turn-over of ambulances.

“To make the PCSO a more responsible and responsive office, we only have one method: good governance. In 2010, we have 35 branches. Today, This is the 50th branch of the PCSO. Seven ambulances we are giving here, and there are 700 ambulances we already gave since 2010. In 2010, ang individual medical assistance araw araw is about four million pesos. Today, pumapalo na po kami ng twenty million pesos a day. Ang ambulances, in 2009, ang bidding ng ambulance is costing P960,000 each. Nung nag bidding kami nung 2014, P860,000 lang yun, at mas marami pa ang mga accessories ng ambulances natin ngayon. How did we do it? Simply, good governance. And I think that’s how Governor Malanyaon was able to sustain her nine years of good governance. Without good governance, lahat ng pera mapupunta sa bulsa,” says PCSO director Francisco Joaquin.

Many residents of Davao Oriental were shouting for joy after learning of the establishment of the PCSO office in the City of Mati. And they thanked Governor Malanyaon for “bringing the PCSO right inside the province” as they will not have to travel for a long six to ten hours to reach the PCSO office in Davao City. “Governor Malanyaon always makes us feel special. After building a new and big hospital, she is able to bring the PCSO right inside our province. Many more lives of the poor people like me will be saved,” says Deogracias Saltino, a 67-year-old indigent patient at the Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center.

Gina Bernabe, PCSO branch manager in Davao Oriental, says among the assistance they are extending to the people are financial help “specifically on their hospital bills, medicines or dialysis. We are extending P20,000 for each patient undergoing dialysis, and P50,000 for cancer patients. We are also giving away wheelchairs, hearing aid, prosthesis, among many others.”

Governor Malanyaon says that as a leader, she treats people as the “real wealth” of the community, so she champions the creation of an enabling environment for her people to enjoy a long, healthy and creative lives. This province of more than half a million people is geographically isolated from the economic center of Mindanao, many of its residents especially those in far-flung villages have succumbed to sickness and died without having seen a doctor. A very limited access to doctors and hospitals explains the high mortality rate then among the poor communities in Davao Oriental even though it has five government-run hospitals spread across the province of ten municipalities and one city. For a long period of time, all the five public hospitals in the province have all been under-funded and over-stretched, and as a result, many communities were severely underserved by run-down government hospitals seriously lacking in equipment, medicine and facilities.

“Poor health contributes a lot to impoverishment. Years of healthy or productive life is lost due to illness. And a long-running government neglect in the delivery of health care services only aggravates the problem,” says Malanyaon.

The governor has the heart of a “doctor to the barrios,” regularly sponsoring medical and surgical missions and bringing along with her medical doctors and medicines in trekking villages especially those that are geographically isolated and depressed areas. And she would always point out the cost of chronic illnesses suffered by many of the marginalized poor that involves direct monetary costs in mitigating and managing recurring sickness and the opportunity cost of lost schooling or work for the ill or those who care for the sick. These costs, she says, can have long-term implications on a poor household’s economy. And this concern, having a soft spot for the poor, is the driving force behind Malanyaon’s strong resolve to give top priority to the delivery of quality health care services for the poor.

Making true her campaign promise to transform the decrepit provincial hospital into a first-class public hospital for the poor, Governor Malanyaon used the huge mandate from her people by changing institutions that stood in the way of an effective response. Her energetic leadership took the bold and unprecedented step by making under-investment in public health care services a thing of the past.

She proudly unveiled one of her biggest signature achievements: a new, modern and bigger Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center, a 200-bed capacity hospital with state-of-the-art medical equipment. With the acquisition of new equipment and recruitment and training of better-qualified staff, the hospital is now capable of performing all procedures except those that are extremely specialized.

As the new hospital is now being benchmarked and awarded as an outstanding in the region, the governor has called on the health care workers here to enhance the hospital’s medical reputation, saying they are the “heart” of the new hospital that she envisions to have “gentle hands and compassion for the poor.” After providing them with attractive salaries, the governor has asked the health workers to “bring to the sick poor a great deal of loving care, attention and more understanding. By Ferdinand Zuasola

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