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President Duterte has given the green light to revive the “Botika ng Bayan” program of former President Gloria Arroyo using the R5-billion fund contributed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
The government-run pharmacies will be established across the country to give poor Filipinos access to free medicines, according to PAGCOR assistant vice president for community relations and services Arnell Ignacio.
“When we turned over the R5 billion, his original plan is for the resurrection of the Botika ng Bayan. Kasi ang gusto ni Presidente kapag ka merong — ang pasyente ay binigyan ng reseta ito ay mabili ng libre [The President was that, when patients are given a prescription, the medicines are available for free],” Ignacio said in a Palace news conference.
“We may be doing the same project of GMA before so ikakalat ito all over the Philippines — ‘yang Botika ng Bayan,” he added.
“Botika ng Bayan” was initiated by the Arroyo administration to provide cheap and quality medicine to Filipinos. The pharmacies were then scattered in various provinces to provide health assistance to the poor communities.
PAGCOR chief Andrea Domingo has turned over R5 billion to the President during a meeting in Malacañang last Monday.
The PAGCOR contribution will reportedly go to the President’s social fund.
On Tuesday, the President said he might use a portion of the P5 billion to build a drug rehabilitation center in Visayas next year. (GK)