Capas, Tarlac -- The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) joined hands with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the local government in bringing free medical services to thousands of residents, including cultural minorities here last Friday.
The one-day mission, held at the covered court of Barangay Patling, provided free consultations and medicines to 870 patients and free dental services to 220 people – comprised mostly of the Aetas.
Congressman Jeci Aquino Lapus of the Third District of Tarlac expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for giving his constituents healthcare assistance for the second time. PAGCOR’s first health mission in Tarlac was held at the Municipality of Bamban.
“I am very thankful to PAGCOR. The health service mission was a great help to our people, particularly to the Aetas living in the mountains,” Lapus said.
The congressman stressed that the Aetas are in dire need of help since most of them cannot afford to buy medicines or avail of check-ups. He said most of the indigenous people live in areas that are inaccessible to vehicles and it takes them four hours to get to the nearest government hospital.
Congressman Lapus also shared that the health mission was timely because their area was hit by typhoon Juan last October; crops, amounting to millions were devastated. He added that since agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the area, particularly in the Municipality of La Paz, many are still struggling to survive.
“Their crops were wrecked by the typhoon. With this as their only source of income, they would rather put healthcare as the least of their priority. That is the reason why we are thankful to the AFP and PAGCOR for helping us in conducting this health mission to ease their burden, and attend to their medical needs,” Lapus said.
Aside from their quarterly health missions, Lapus shared that there are foreign investors who hold free medical services in certain municipalities, but these are only limited.
Capas Municipal Mayor Antonio Rodriguez Jr. was also grateful to PAGCOR. He said their 20 barangay health centers cannot accommodate the medical needs of almost 200,000 residents.
“Health centers are dependent on the provincial and municipal funds. There is only minimal budget for healthcare, thus we really need the aid of the government. We are thankful to PAGCOR for their assistance,” Rodriguez added.