More Filipinos will be able to avail of free medicine in the coming weeks after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) signed Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with two more public hospitals.Late last week, DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo led the signing of MOAs with two hospitals in Davao City for the implementation of “Libreng Gamot para sa Masa (Lingap sa Masa),” the free medicine assistance program funded under President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Socio-Civic Projects Funds.

“Pres. Duterte’s free medicines program will go a long way towards easing the burdens of many Filipinos who have no means to buy medicine because they’re too expensive. In the meantime, we need to give as much support as we can to our public hospitals because they are where our impoverished kababayans go for much needed medical and health services. One of the key priorities of good governance is the improvement of public health even as we make access to other key social services easier for Filipinos,” said Sec. Taguiwalo.

Sec. Taguiwalo, together with Protective Services Bureau (PSB) Director Alicia Bonoan and DSWD Field Office (FO) XI Director Mercedita P. Jabagat, inked agreements with Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) and Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) for the provision of free medicines to indigent patients in Davao Region.

SPMC was represented by Medical Center Chief Dr. Leopoldo J. Vega and Chief Administrative Officer Ricardo S.D. Justol, while the DRMC was represented by Medical Center Chief Dr. Bryan O. Dalid.

The MOA signing was conducted during the 66th Anniversary Celebration of DSWD Field Office XI at Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City. It was witnessed by field office employees and guests present during the celebration.

FO XI has been allotted P150 million to carry out the medicine assistance program in Davao Region in partnership with SPMC and DRMC.

The DSWD has earlier signed a MOA with Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City last February for the provision of free medicines to residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Region VII, respectively.

The “Lingap sa Masa” medicine assistance program is in response to President Duterte’s directive to give indigent Filipinos access to free medicines to help them recover from their illnesses. The program will be initially implemented in five regions, including NCR and Regions III, VI, VII, and XI. Once it expands, the DSWD plans to make the assistance available to all regions.

“We know that in the long run, P150 million will not be enough to cover all the medicine needs of so many Filipinos in Davao who are need of medicine assistance, but apart from Lingap Masa, the DSWD also continues to implement its own medical assistance program through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis (AICS) program. Filipinos can continue to access this through our field offices,” she said. (DSWD)