Lower House OK's bill mandating LGUs to allocate 15% of IRA for health services

Published December 1, 2021, 3:34 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives on Wednesday, Dec. 1 passed on third and final reading a bill that provides for the mandatory allocation of 15 percent of the annual Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units for health services, including the distribution of free medicines to their constituents.

Medicines image

With 224 affirmative and zero negative votes, House Bill No. 10392 was approved by the Lower Chamber and sent to the Senate to await for similar action.

Strongly endorsed for approval by the Committee on Local Government and on Health, HB 10392 directs all LGU’s to spend 15 percent of IRA fund it received from the national government for the funding of health services programs and activities.

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

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.

Authors of the measure stressed necessity of ensuring funding for medicines and 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 procuring their 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.