To ease out burdens on medical expenses of indigenous and marginalized individuals in the city, the Local Government Unit of Tacurong alongside the Department of Health Region XII (DOH 12) commenced the distribution of free and quality medicines through the newly-constructed Botika ng Bayan (BnB) situated beside the City Health Center.

Following the initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte to augment the quantity of accessible medicines in the country, the Botika ng Bayan (BnB) or formally known as FOURmula One Plus Botika ng Bayan (F1+BnB) made its comeback assuring the Filipinos access to free medicines and quality pharmacy services.

In the city, the F1+BnB program expands the variety of available generic yet safe and effective medicines, from an array of maintenance drugs to a number of common medicines for cough and flu. Anent to F1+BnB, the LGU-Tacurong and DOH 12 assigned licensed pharmacists and trained pharmacy aides to take charge in dispensing prescribed medicines to patients and Barangay Health Stations (BHS) and in ensuring the efficient management of the BnB.

At the forefront of this project are the disadvantaged residents and the vulnerable population of the city, but even so, the BnB welcomes all inhabitants of Tacurong – even those who can access private drugstores and pharmacies – to avail of free medicines provided there is a sufficient supply.

By presenting a doctor’s prescription to the BnB, patients are guaranteed to receive prescribed medicines without any amount incurred from their own pockets. This was possible through the allotted budget of DOH 12 for this year’s BnB medicines amounting to 600,000 pesos. By 2021 and 2022, DOH 12’s budget allocation for additional BnB medicines will be tantamount to 2 million pesos for each respective year. With these budgets, the BnB is certain to have its stocks replenished for the next years to come.

In a launching and MOA signing event held at the Tacurong City Cultural and Sports Center on October 20, 2020, Dr. Mercedes Manansala, Provincial DOH Officer revealed that during the term of former Mayor Lina Montilla, Tacurong was on track to becoming the first Local Government Unit in SOCCSKSARGEN to establish a BnB. Brought about by delays in procedural requirements, Tacurong stepped back in launching its own BnB as other municipalities set up their own. After years long effort, Tacurongnons can finally experience the benefits of BnB in the city.

Tacurong is the 18th LGU in Region 12 to acquire its own BnB yet also the first city in the region to do so.

A ribbon cutting ceremony graced by Vice Mayor Lino O. Montilla and DOH 12 representatives launched the formal opening of the BnB. Also, LGU-Tacurong led by Mayor Angelo Montilla inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) indicating a partnership with DOH 12 to bring forth quality medicines and services in Tacurong.

In clarification of BnB’s salient features, the key officials from LGU headed by Dr. Giovanni Deles, City Health Officer, and DOH 12 entertained queries from the media through a press conference made available for livestreaming at the official page of LGU-Tacurong.

True to his unrelenting effort of giving priority to Health Services, Mayor Montilla not only manifested the existence of BnB in the city but also teamed up with DOH 12 to turnover a wheelchair to a 76 year-old recipient, David Redome, during the BnB launching event.(Daniel Costas)