MANILA, Philippines – To ensure Filipino communites have better access to medicines, President Rodrigo Duterte wants to revive the Department of Health's Botika ng Bayan program.
"I will revive the Botika ng Bayan near government centers," said Duterte on Wednesday, August 24, during a press conference at the wake of a slain police officer in Taytay, Rizal.
The Botika ng Bayan (Pharmacy of the People) began in 2005 with the target of ensuring each city or municipality has at least one Botika ng Bayan outlet from where the community can purchase medicines most needed in the area.
To do this, the government franchises outlets to non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, trade and labor unions, corporate foundations, or religious groups.
According to the DOH, there are 16,350 outlets of Botika ng Bayan and its variants all over the country. But in 2011, the government issued a moratorium on the project due to problems with financing and restocking of medicines.
Duterte plans to address at least the financing aspect by devoting Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) funds "exclusively" to medicines.
"Itong Pagcor, lahat ng earnings ng Pagcor which is about P30 to P35 billion will be used exclusively para sa mga medicines ng lahat ng Filipino," he told media.
(All the earnings of Pagcor which are about P30 to P35 billion will be used exclusively for medicines for all Filipinos.)
"Punta lang sila sa city health [office] (They can just go to the city health office). I hope it will be utilized properly," he added.
Duterte said he wants to make sure that "no one goes home without buying medicine."
He first mentioned his plan to devote Pagcor funds to health programs during the 2016 presidential campaign season.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.