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Duterte to use PAGCOR contribution to revive GMA’s Botika ng Bayan

MANILA, Philippines —  President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to use the P5 billion turned over by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to establish drug stores that would provide the poor access to free medicines, an official of the gaming regulator said on Wednesday.

PAGCOR assistant vice president for community relations and services Arnell Ignacio said Duterte had told them that he wanted to revive the Botika ng Bayan program launched during the time of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“When we turned over the P5 billion, his original plan is for the resurrection of the Botika ng Bayan. The president wants patients with prescription to be given free medicines,” Ignacio said in a press briefing at Malacañan.

PAGCOR chairperson Andrea Domingo handed Duterte the P5 billion during a courtesy call in Malacañang last Monday.

Last Tuesday, Duterte said he might use the PAGCOR contribution to build another drug rehabilitation center in Visayas. A mega drug rehabilitation facility that can accommodate 10,000 patients was inaugurated in Nueva Ecija the other day.

“I’d like to make it clear that each time we provide funds, we cannot say how it would be used. It’s the direction of the president. So if he plans to use it for Botika ng Bayan or rehabilitation center, he will be the one to decide,” Ignacio said.

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Ignacio said PAGCOR also provides the Dangerous Drugs Board P5 million every month to support its programs. He said the gaming regulator also allotted P11 million for areas hit by typhoon ‘Lawin’ and P5 million each to victims of the Davao City blast and to Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

Used to bashing

In the same briefing, Ignacio, a comedian and television host, shrugged off criticisms that he is not qualified for the post

“I am from showbiz. I get that. I get to be bashed everyday,” he said.

“And it’s really nothing new to me. I am used to being maligned or criticized. I do not mind them.

Ignacio said becoming a part of the change that the Duterte administration wants to institute is more important than his critics.

“So far I think we are doing a very good job in PAGCOR,” he said.

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