Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte. File
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte signed an executive order for a sharp reduction of as much as 56 per cent in the maximum current prices of about 120 essential medicines that have gone beyond the reach especially of poor Filipinos, a senior cabinet official revealed on Monday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea explained the order was in response to increasing demands especially from poor and ordinary Filipinos for easier access to affordable medicines especially “maintenance” drugs.
The order, Medialdea said, represented a 56 per cent reduction in the prices of essential drugs used by Filipinos afflicted by ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases as well as chronic lung diseases.
Other essential drugs covered by the price reductions include neonatal drugs or those used for ailing infants or newborn babies, major cancers as well as a skin ailment called psoriasis and rheumatic arthriti, according to Medialdea.
In a separate interview, freshman Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, a close Duterte ally and the former presidential assistant, confirmed Medialdea’s announcement.
Go noted that the Duterte order was in compliance with the provisions of a law known as the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act passed and enacted by Congress in 2008.
“This has been a law for many years,” Go, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, told reporters on Monday morning.
“We all know,” he pointed out, “that a lot of Filipinos, especially the poor, need these medicines. They have no choice but to buy these medicines even if they are expensive so that they can live longer. These include medications for diabetes, hypertension and major cancers.”
Malacanang Palace officials said Duterte signed the order 10 years after the passage of the law and despite strong opposition from the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP).
The PHAP warned the order would “kill” the small drug retailers and force drug manufacturers to reconsider launching new products in the Philippines.
About half the country's roughly 110 million people are currently under quarantine — including millions in deep poverty, left jobless by tough restrictions on movement.
Duterte gave the order to Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero in televised remarks from a Cabinet meeting on the coronavirus pandemic Monday night.
Duterte issued the directive after a meeting with his Covid-19 task force — where everyone except him can be seen wearing the mandatory face covering — an official video released late Wednesday showed.
"The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipino is that I’m not qualified, and it would be a violation of the constitution,” Duterte said. "In obedience to the will of the people ... I will follow what you wish and today I announce my retirement from politics.”
Israeli authorities increased operations in the occupied West Bank. More than 50 Palestinians have been killed, including fighters and civilians, in operations and incidents in the West Bank since then.
The Centre also confirmed that it is following the situation around the clock and would continue brief the public on the latest developments, calling on the public, road users and motorists to exercise precautions when driving during rain, and to avoid nearing surface runoffs and pools of rainwater.
The Centre also confirmed that it is following the situation around the clock and would continue brief the public on the latest developments, calling on the public, road users and motorists to exercise precautions when driving during rain, and to avoid nearing surface runoffs and pools of rainwater. It also appealed to members of the society to follow the bulletins and reports issued by the NCM and not to circulate rumors.