MANILA, Philippines – What was meant to be a standard program to open a new Malasakit Center on Wednesday, January 8, turned into a praise fest between allies Senator Bong Go and Alan Peter Cayetano.
Go, who was President Rodrigo Duterte’s longtime aide before becoming senator, thanked Cayetano and his wife, Taguig City-Pateros 2nd District Representative Lani Cayetano, for staying loyal to Duterte all these years.
“Alam niyo po, mga Taguig, itong si Speaker kasama ko parati sa basketball noon pa. Kahit even the campaign of President Duterte, kami po parating nag-uusap. At maraming salamat sa mga Cayetano sa inyong suporta kay Pangulong Duterte, sa inyong loyalty not only kay Pangulo, sa tao rin po,” Go said, earning him applause from the crowd.
(You know, people of Taguig, I have long been playing basketball with the Speaker. Even during the campaign of President Duterte, we would always talk to each other. So thank you very much to the Cayetanos for your support to President Duterte, for your loyalty not just to the President, but to the people as well.)
The administration-allied senator was speaking in front of the Taguig Pateros District Hospital, where the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop for medical and financial aid services from the government, was opened on Wednesday.
Apart from Go and the Cayetano couple, the event was also attended by Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano, the Speaker’s brother, and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
In his speech, Go also praised Lani Cayetano for her loyalty to her husband, who was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections.
“Bilib din po si Pangulong Duterte kay Ma’am Lani. Alam n’yo bakit? Sabi niya kahit saan si Alan, nandoon ka. Kung matutulog si Alan sa Davao, nandodoon ka. Kung matulog naman si Alan sa Cebu, nandodoon ka,” said Go as he looked at the congresswoman sitting behind him onstage.
(President Duterte is also impressed with Ma’am Lani. You know why? He said it’s because wherever Alan is, you’re there. If Alan will sleep in Davao, you’re there. If he will sleep in Cebu, you’re there.)
“Lumilipad talaga si Ma’am Lani doon para samahan si Alan. Gano’n talaga ‘yong pagmamahalan nilang dalawa, ‘di ba? Totoo ‘yan ah. Walang biro ‘yan. Kaya bilib na bilib ang Pangulo sa dalawang ‘to,” the senator added.
(Ma’am Lani really flies to accompany Alan. That’s how strong their love is, right? That’s true. This is not a joke. That’s why the President is really impressed with these two.)
Alan Peter Cayetano also heaped on praises for Go, who counts the Malasakit Center as his pet project.
“Ito pong programa ng Malasakit Center ay galing talaga sa puso ni Bong Go sapagkat no’ng siya’y kinakausap ng mga pasyente, siya ay nakinig… At kung hindi malabis, pagbukas no’ng bagong ospital, pahingi pa ng isa pang Malasakit Center!” the Taguig City-Pateros First District congressman said with a smile.
(This Malasakit Center program is truly from the heart of Bong Go because he listened to all the patients who talked to him… And if it’s not too much to ask, when our new hospital opens, I’m asking for another Malasakit Center!)
The President’s men
Cayetano and Go are among the incumbent politicians closest to the President. In a speech in November 2018, Duterte had even called himself, Go, and Cayetano as the “brightest stars” in Philippine politics.
Cayetano had not been a strong contender for Speaker, until the President endorsed his term-sharing deal with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco. Legislators then set aside their personal dislike of Cayetano to secure key House posts they wanted. (READ: Cayetano’s charm offensive in House shields him from SEA Games backlash)
Go, who was formerly special assistant to the President, remains a constant companion for Duterte, sometimes even being the sole lawmaker present in presidential events.
The Malasakit Center was Go’s brainchild back when he was still special assistant to the President. In the lead-up to the 2019 campaign period, Malasakit Centers displayed large posters bearing the face of Go, who was present whenever a new center was opened in the country.
The Commission on Elections later ordered the DOH to take down these posters after citizens complained that government funds were being used to promote Go’s senatorial candidacy.
After winning a seat in the Senate, Go was successfully able to lobby for the quick passage into law of the bill institutitionalizing the Malasakit Center program in all government-run hospitals. Duterte signed the Malasakt Center law in December last year. – Rappler.com