Lower House panel proposes mandatory LGU allocation for medicines, health services

Published October 21, 2021, 12:32 PM

by Ben Rosario

A House of Representatives panel has recommended passage of a bill that would guarantee allocation for the procurement of medicines and other community health requirements needed by indigent patients.


The House Committee on Local Government has unanimously approved House Bill 10392 that provides mandatory allocation of 15 percent of the annual Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units (LGUs) for local health services, which includes providing free medicines to their respective constituents.

HB 10392 consolidated legislative proposals filed by Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Reps. Cyrille “Beng’ F. Abueg-Zaldivar (2nd District, Palawan) and Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon).

The legislative proposal which is expected to be presented for plenary deliberation in the Lower House next month proposes to amend Section 287 of Republic Act no. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Filed separately, the bills of Rodriguez and Abueg-Zaldivar require LGUs to earmark a portion of their respective IRA for free medicines to indigent patients.

On the other hand, Tan’s proposal specified that the amount of IRA to be set aside annually should be 15 percent of the IRA received by the LGU for the year.

Tan noted that as a result of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling of the Supreme Court, LGU’s should expect at least 30 percent increase in the IRA to be distributed by the national government next year.

Authors of the measure stressed the necessity of ensuring funding for medicines and other medical needs of LGU constituents especially so because the country is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rodriguez lamented that while many patients benefit from free hospitalization or consultation for various ailments, they are left on their own when it comes to getting the prescribed medicines.

“Medical attention without the concomitant medicines being administered to the patient is meaningless,” Rodriguez stated.

“Again, poverty is depriving many indigent patients of the rare opportunity fo medical advancement and recent discoveries on cure of diseases because the medicines are hardly affordable and far from the indigent patient’s reach,” the House official pointed out.

Abueg-Zaldivar disclosed that studies have indicated that medicines in the Philippines are five to 30 percent times more expensive compared to other parts of Asia.

She said this fact makes it more difficult for indigent patients to have access to needed medicines.

“This is a poverty alleviation program to increase access of the people to unrestricted distribution of medicines. This is to provide assistance to indigent patients so that they can immediately avail of needed medicines,” Abueg-Zaldivar stated.