Saturday, August 15, 2015

Speech of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas at the DOH National Health Summit, Manila Marriott Hotel

From the Website of DILG

Speech of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas at the DOH National Health Summit, Manila Marriott Hotel

Thank you. To the light operator, could we have a little light here please? Thank you.

Secretary Janette Garin—just as an aside: Secretary Garin and I worked very closely together when I was a senator, and she was leading the effort in the House of Representatives for the passage of the Cheaper Medicines Law many years ago. And we worked very well together at that time. We continue now to work very well together at the executive side of government. And so, with all the speculation as to running mate, who would be my running mate? You know if you think about Janette Garin, it will be “Mar-Garin.”

Healthier than butter, less cholesterol than butter. So Secretary Janette Garin, who is really leading the effort to humanize and to make much more relevant to the average Filipino the healthcare agenda of our government—let's give her a round of applause. Janette, congratulations.

Secretary, Brother Armin Luistro, who is also our partner in all of our efforts at the local government so that in fact these programs of the national government are brought to the youngest and to the youth of our country. Let's give Brother Armin a round of applause.

To our partners from the European Union: Ambassador Guy Ledoux, Ambassador Luis Calvo from Spain, Ambassador Asif Ahmad from the U.K. By the way, Asif, can you stand so they can recognize you?

I just want you to know that... I'll tell it through a story. We were in a function in Malacanang, and Secretary Butch Abad and I were talking in Filipino because it was a diplomatic function and we thought that we were speaking in confidence until this gentleman came up behind us and said, "Ano'ng pinag-uusapan ninyo?" That was Ambassador Asif, so be very careful ah. He is fluent in Filipino, Asif Ahmad.

To Mr. Robert Frank, the acting head of the Development Cooperation of the EU. I don't know exactly from whose office or whose pocket the funding for this conference came from but I want you gentlemen to know that the governors of our country are very happy because they said, "Wow, this conference is really first class, with plane ticket and with hotel reservations." Can we have all the governors, please stand?

There are 80 provinces in our country and really, when it comes to the delivery of government services, it's the local chief executives who are really at the frontlines and who are, so to speak, the first responders. So any success of the national government is very much dependent and is crucially dependent on the success and the efforts of the local chief executives. We also have, apart from our governors, we have here the representative from the National Association of Barangay Captains. Ed Abesamis is here with us.

To the officials of the DOH here present; to President Alex Padilla of PhilHealth; to Zenaida Pulido, president of BHWs [Barangay Health Workers] in our country is over there. You know, I was telling Zenaida, she's the president of the BHWs. She was telling me, she came up to me outside, we were chatting a little bit so I said, "Mabuti ka pa, presidente ka na." But you know Ma'am Zenaida, Ma'am Zeny, this is a great opportunity. Whatever I say here might be forgotten in 15 minutes or 30 minutes, but let's do some productive work. President Alex Padilla of PhilHealth, Zeny of the BHWs, we want all the BHWs as they are rendering healthcare to our kababayans to not be uncertain about their need for healthcare as well. So can we have automatic registration of our BHWs? And so, let's have coffee after this. Ok? So we'll do that. So, if nothing else happens, at least nakapag-boundary tayo and we accomplished something concrete here this morning.

Members of the diplomatic corps: PHOs, NHOs, NGO partners; governors; mayors; friends; ladies; and gentlemen:

Magandang magandang umaga po sa ating lahat at congratulations po dito sa ating health conference, Health National Summit na ito. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!

As we were all growing up, we were all familiar with [some] advice that we have heard: Health is wealth; an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. These are well established and in fact well-worn ditties that we all grew up with. Sadly, in many instances, these truths are not translated effectively into government service until now.

Over the last five years, of Daang Matuwid under President PNOY, we have seen a great transformation in the way health care is being delivered to our people. We have seen a huge change in the mindset and in the attitude both on the receiving side, the clients, and on the provider side, the service providers. And, that is what has led us now to substantial progress where we exceed in some instances, we pass in other instances, and in a few instances, we are approaching the MDG goals that we have set for ourselves several years ago. And all of these successes have transpired because together, all of you came and delivered this health care in an innovative and in a much different way from all the other years in the past.

Behind all the statistics, behind all the billions, behind all the millions that are serviced, at the end of the day, there is a person who is sick. There is a family who cares about that person, who is doing all that they can—selling their last assets, borrowing at usurious rates, perhaps even selling a kidney or some other body part in order to fund the health care expense of the loved one. Behind all of the programs and projects and billions and millions that are talked about, there is a Filipino. And today, we can say, today all of you can proudly say that you have made a difference in their lives, you have touched their lives, and you have given them a real safety net that they can count on so that this anxiety, this stress is removed from their daily burdens of life. Congratulations to all of you!

Oftentimes, we hear government officials talk about the 4Ps program. Yes, it is very important. Roughly P65 billion a year is given directly to four and a half million families to help them cross over into a better future. But what is often not mentioned, and I'd like to focus my remarks on that this morning, is the amount of money that regularly—no muss, no fuss, no trumpets blaring, no photographs, but is regularly transmitted. This work is regularly done and the money is regularly transmitted all across our country that is in fact, the real safety net that we provide our people and that is the money that comes out of the PhilHealth program. Roughly P75 billion a year that is now being spent by government in place of what citizens would have otherwise spent for their own health care needs. We have been able to substantially change the terms of engagement as between our citizens and their government and their future with this very successful program of universal healthcare driven through the PhilHealth Program.

Let's see what that means in the ecosystem of governments: Because the citizen is able to depend on help from the government for their health care needs when they get sick, money that they otherwise would have had to spend, properties and savings that they otherwise would have had to expend are now preserved or can now extend and expand the amount of health care that that family needs because they now have this money from PhilHealth.

On the local government unit side, this P75 billion funds all of the needs of the provincial hospitals, the rural health units, all of the healthcare or majority of the health care being undertaken by the local government units now benefits from this flow through of the amounts that we are spending for universal health care. Again, whereas before, we would have a health unit in “name”, today we have a health unit at the provincial level for reality where people can go and in fact receive health care.

And lastly, because of the universality of what we are now providing, because it has become point of care rather than strictly by registration; we have unshackled our people from having to sell their independence, sell their dignity to the local political warlord, in order to receive healthcare. In the old days, you had to know your captain, you had to be friends with your captain, you had to butter up to your captain, you had to vote for your captain or mayor or councilor or congressman or governor in order to be covered by healthcare. But this act of making it universal, of making it point of care, unshackles our people. We're giving back their dignity. We give them back their independence, and in effect, we give them back control over their destiny. So congratulations to all of you.

So this effort by the health sector led by Secretary Janette Garin, this effort in pushing healthcare into programs of the government as it is, is really more than just pesos and centavos. It is transforming our society. It is changing the way we live, changing the way we see ourselves, and changing the way we look upon our future. This amount—P75 billion annually this year—will only grow, and that is good, because that means that our people will also now be able to depend on a much larger safety net. This amount will also provide, with the initiatives of Secretary Garin and Secretary Luistro to now drill down much deeper so that in fact, we can actualize that long known ditty of "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure." And that is the magic that Secretary Garin in particular, in partnership with Secretary Armin Luistro, is doing now. Whereas healthcare in the past was up in the hospital. They are bringing it down to where the people are. They are making it real for the people and they are making it tangible so that in fact our people can benefit from all the programs that we have in the DOH and all of the related agencies. So congratulations to your team, Janette.

And so, what I'd like to say here this morning is very simple: On behalf of the political side of Daang Matuwid, on behalf of the governors, the mayors, the congressmen, the barangay officials that form part of the Daang Matuwid army, we recognize you, we acknowledge you, we value your contribution, we value how you have transformed our societies and our communities. And we commit to be with you as we push this agenda forward.

This is not an easy task. There many in our country who want to go back to the old ways: to the ways where our people were dependent on them, to the ways where dependency and patron-client relations are once again reestablished. They want to go back to where their brand of leadership is what will prevail.

Together, we are fighting for a different kind of governance. We are fighting to unleash the energies of each and every single Filipino where they are not dependent on any one person. Where they do not have to seek the favor of any almighty anywhere in our land, but that they hold in their hands their destinies. And providing this safety net, providing this pader na masasandalan nila is one of the most key ingredients in attaining that goal. Together, we can make this happen.

There was a small discussion outside. I asked Governor Dolfo del Rosario, I asked him, he's the president of the Governors' League, I asked him, "Manong Dolfo, what do you think is the most powerful word in the dictionary?" He said, "What else? Love." That's a reasonable answer, pagmamahal. You know he's a lover not a fighter. You know this guy. And then, I asked Governor Junjun Davide of Cebu. I asked him, "Gov, what do you think, what's the most powerful word in the English dictionary?" And he said, "hope." Pag-asa. I said, "That's a reasonable answer." But this morning, on this occasion of our National Health Summit, I submit to all of you, and in particular to your champion in the Cabinet, someone who has received and continues to receive the president's trust and confidence, Secretary Janette Garin—I submit to you, Sec. Janette, that the strongest and most powerful word in the English dictionary, in our knowledge, is "together."

Together that has love. Together that provides hope. Together, let's continue transforming healthcare so it is meaningful and it touches the lives of every single Filipino in our country. Mabuhay po kayong lahat! Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

Good morning po.


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