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Privilege Speech of Bohol Vice-Governor Rene Relampagos

Ania ang full video ug transcript sa privilege speech ni Vice Governor Rene Lopez Relampagos niadtong Martes, August 10, kabahin sa iyang gidusong ordinansa nga naghatag ug libreng tambal ug serbisyong medikal sa katigulangang Bol-anon.

[TRANSCRIPT]
“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.”

Such beautiful line from Tia Walker’s The Inspired Caregiver captures the soul of the Provincial Government of Bohol’s pillar of caring for the weak, especially our elderly Boholanos. This pillar also encompasses the innate nature of a Boholano who is family-oriented, affectionate, and compassionate. As such, caring for the weak and the elderly serves as one of the guiding principles in the fulfillment of our sworn duty as members of this august body. Above all, more than fulfilling the mandates of our laws, we take care of our senior citizens as a way of giving back for their love, care, and sacrifices so we can be the people that we are today.

As I pen this speech and speak before all of you, I remember my parents who have already passed on. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to take care of them in their old age, especially my Mama Nene. I am certain that my fellow members in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan also had the opportunity to repay their parents and even grandparents for all the love they showed and the sacrifices they made so we can be the persons we are today.
Many Filipinos would wish to have the same chance as us. If only they could, they would like to give their parents or grandparents a comfortable life in their old age but statistics tell us the sad plight of the elderly here in the country.

According to the 2018 Longitudinal Study of Ageing and Health in the Philippines (LSAHP) conducted by Demographic Research and Development Foundation, Inc. (DRDF) and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), 30% of the country’s older persons (OPs) reporting an unmet need for medical attention. While physician-diagnosed illnesses such as hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes are prevalent amongst this age bracket, 27% hypertensive senior citizens and 32% diabetic senior citizens are not taking their medication.

It is worth noting that 31% of hypertensives and 18% of diabetics are 100% dependent on obtaining free medication from health centers. However, in a separate study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, many senior citizens said that the supply of medicines has become a significant contributor to their unmet healthcare needs as health centers quickly run out of supply. This is attributable to the high number of patients received every day and delays in the procurement of LGUs. To compensate, partial filling has become the norm. Health centers provide a few tablets and ask the patient to buy the rest of his or her needed prescription medicines at a nearby pharmacy. Unfortunately, when finances are inadequate, they opt to wait until supplies are replenished.

The availability of medicines has been a perennial problem in the Western Pacific region. Availability of medicines for cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, is usually less available in the public sector in the region, with the Philippines recording the least median availability of these medicines from a World Health Organization Western Pacific Report.

Finally, there is the COVID-19 situation in the country where the elderly is the most vulnerable. Because of their weaker immunity, they are more susceptible to the virus. Getting their maintenance medicines or seeking medical attention have become a potential health risk. And even when people say that the COVID-19 is the great equalizer, the current situation is making things more difficult for the underprivileged.

Due to these factors, our senior citizens are made to fend for themselves. Some opt for self-medication and resort to home remedies and traditional medicines thinking that it is more natural and a cheaper alternative. Others, greatly influenced by their profound faith, simply choose to endure their sickness and leave things to God. Imbes nga magpatambal, mag-antos nalang ug isalig tanan sa Ginoo.

As sons, daughters, and grandchildren, I believe none of us here today would want our parents or grandparents to succumb to the frailties that come with old age without being provided the best quality healthcare service we can give. If we do, then none of our beloved elderly Boholanos should experience that feeling of helplessness. Indeed, they deserve the attention and assistance that we can give.

As public officials, we have the power and responsibility of sparking hope, providing opportunities, and bettering the lives of our people, especially those who are in the margins. We are able to do so when we begin to look at life from the lens of those we sworn to care for and protect. We have the capacity to craft local ordinances and mobilize our resources as a way of assuring people that we genuinely care and have their best interest in mind. And wherever we can, we need to be the first ones to stretch our hands to lift them. This is the same principle that I strive to live out as a public servant.

We always say “Buhat ang Pasultihon” and as one Provincial Government of Bohol, headed by our Governor Art Yap, we lived up to the call. We strived to make our words translated into action so that our people see and feel that this administration is a caring administration. We have always honored the contributions of our senior citizens not only in our lives but also to the province of Bohol. We have passed the Bohol Centenarian Ordinance as a way of reaffirming the valued Filipino tradition of caring for the elderly by honoring and granting benefits and privileges to Boholanos aged 100 years old and above.

Today, it is my honor to introduce my proposed ordinance that amplifies the commitment of the Provincial Government of Bohol in providing quality, affordable, and accessible health care services to all senior citizens.

The Buhat Pasultihon Free Medical Assistance Program for Boholano Senior Citizens ensures the availability of maintenance medicines and accessibility of medical services such as medical consultation and laboratory examinations.
Through this ordinance, the Provincial Government of Bohol aims to ease the burden of our senior citizens and their caretakers in buying their maintenance medicines or getting their health checked. With the challenges posed by the pandemic in terms of employment, livelihood, and health, this ordinance is a reprieve, allowing families to worry less about their elderly’s medication.

This ordinance will also complement the efforts of Local Government Units and National Government Agencies in providing the best healthcare service to our elderly Boholanos. We would be able to ensure that the supply of our prescriptive medicines for hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis is enough to cater to the needs of our more than 100,000 Boholano senior citizens.

Above all, this ordinance ensures that our Boholano senior citizens are able to live well as a way of honoring a life well lived. This is our way of paying tribute to the people who paved the way for us during their prime through their love, hard work, and sacrifice. As Tia Walker puts it: “To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” And it is our great honor as a united Sangguniang Panlalawigan that we can honor our beloved parents and grandparents by advocating for the welfare of our senior citizens.

Thank you and good day to one and all!

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