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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Free basic medicines for barangays pushed
Writer: Isagani C. Yambot Jr., MRS-PRIB
01 August 2011 10:03:12 AM

A lawmaker has filed a measure seeking to provide free basic medicines to all 42,025 barangays nationwide.

Rep. Salvio B. Fortuno (5th District, Camarines Sur), author of House Bill 4901 to be known as the Free Basic Medicines Act of 2011, said the Constitution explicitly provides that the State shall protect and promote the right to health of all Filipinos.

In compliance with this expressed Constitutional mandate, Fortuno said the government must adopt a system providing all indigent residents of barangays nationwide with free medicines.

Under House Bill 4901, free basic medicines for poor residents of every barangay shall be distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

HB 4901 defines the term indigent residents as those families who have no visible means of income and those whose family income shall not exceed P50,000 per year.

The bill excludes from the coverage of free basic medicines those that are already covered by the government’s cash dole out program for poor people being undertaken by the DSWD.

"The recipients shall be limited only to those who are not receiving the cash dole outs given by the government through the Conditional Cash Transfer Program being undertaken by the DSWD," Fortuno said.

Fortuno said the bill seeks not only to give justice to those indigent residents who are excluded from receiving such cash dole outs for not being qualified under the prescribed guidelines but also to effectively provide assistance to poor residents who have been denied access even to basic medicines by reason of poverty.

The bill mandates the DSWD to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations in coordination with the Liga ng mga Barangay to provide a system of distribution to ensure that all beneficiaries receive free basic medicines.

"The amount necessary to implement this Act shall be charged against the annual appropriations of the DSWD," Fortuno said.