Pres. Duterte launches Malasakit program
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2018 - 12:00am

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and at the same time, it is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. This is the first time I have ever encountered Ash Wednesday happening on Heart’s Day. Call it a clash of dates, but like it or not, Ash Wednesday to obedient Catholics is a day of obligation and a day of fasting and abstinence, while Valentine’s Day for restaurateurs and hoteliers is the best day for business. 

Valentine’s Day for the motel industry is the best day of the year for all the rooms are filled to the brim with lovers. So the challenge for Catholics today is whether to obey the Catholic Church teaching on fasting and abstinence or obey the heart’s desire to show one’s love to the opposite sex? Of course we senior citizen are already exempted from fasting and abstinence. 

If at all there are any fears on Valentine’s Day, it is the possible “Carmageddon” many motorists fear would happen on this day of hearts as people expect the cars to flood the narrow streets of Cebu, so go to the restaurants, motels or hotels. But for the rest of Christianity, I dare say that it is a rare opportunity for you to do an ultimate sacrifice of denying oneself for the Love of God, whom we all know is Love personified. 

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Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte was in Cebu City to grace the official launching of the Malasakit Program in the Visayas at 2 p.m. at the Vicente Sotto Medical Center (VSMC). I first got hold of the Malasakit Program when I interviewed in my TV talkshow Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino last month. This program stems from a directive from Pres. Duterte to help the poorest of the poor in one-stop shop areas that will be identified in partner hospitals or agencies like PhilHealth, PCSO, DSWD, DOH or Pagcor. 

This program proposes to help facilitate and streamline medical financial assistance government processes, which are extended to those that need it the most. Of course inaugurating this facility is merely the beginning of this program. We in the media would certainly be watching how the Malasakit programs are being implemented for the very purpose of helping the poor. This is why Pres. Duterte came to Cebu.

Another program that the President launched today is the Malasakit Tech2Teach that aims to help Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies, the University of the Philippines (UP) and DepEd fast track Deed’s Computer Literacy program for all public schools through the donations of computer units from various BPO companies. This is a very noble goal; after all, graduates from public schools need to become computer literate before they can be hired by BPOs. But above all, the teachers in all public schools must also teach their students how to speak better English because like it or not, English is the language of the business world.

PA Michael Dino gave the complete picture of the Malasakit program before Pres. Duterte gave his speech. We congratulate the Office of the Presidential Assistant in the Visayas (OPAV) for launching the  Malasakit Programs. I’m sure that Pres. Duterte would be proud that you made this program work in so short a time. 

While waiting for the arrival of the President, it was my first time to meet Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque who was introduced to me together with Regional Development Council (RDC-7) Infrastructure Chairman Glenn Soco who earlier told me the bad news that my pet infrastructure project dubbed the “Parallel Road to Escario St.” that I initiated way back in the year 2004 was not budgeted for the Year 2018. I thought that under Pres. Duterte this road had become a reality. Hence this news was totally disappointing to me. To think that DPWH Secretary Mark Villar made an earlier promise to have this road funded. 

Mind you, this road project was conceptualized when traffic was not heavy along Escario St. But that was 10 years ago when traffic congestion has became a daily chore… with no end in sight. Good thing that both Glenn Soco and I were discussing this project within earshot of Harry Roque, he told me that he could do something about this. Well, during his speech whenever Pres. Duterte would talk about Harry Roque, he always says that someday he will become a Senator. Time for me to test Harry Roque if he has the capability to help traffic weary Cebuanos where DPWH cannot anymore. 

Meanwhile other highlights of Pres. Duterte’s speech at the Vicente Sotto Medical Center (VSMC), he told DND Chief Lorenzana to look elsewhere for attack choppers. Then he had a very important message for the International Criminal Court (ICC) saying, ”The war on drugs will not stop! It will continue!” Let’s see if the ICC heard the words of Pres. Duterte!

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