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    Keynote Message at Champions for Health Governance Launch

    25 November 2016 Office of the Vice President, Quezon City Reception Hall 24 November 2016

    Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

    Sabi ko kanina mag-extempo na lang ako kaya lang nahiya ako sa nag-introduce masyadaong pormal.

    First of all thank you very much for the opportunity to speak before you in this very special occasion.

    The Champions for Health Governance Award is an important milestone in our efforts to explore more collaborations with local government units and to mold best practices in health governance.

    Access to quality healthcare and medical services still remain an elusive dream to many Filipinos. Alam po natin ito. Maraming mga barangay ang walang health center or mayroong health center pero kailangan pa rin pong pumunta sa napakalayo dahil hindi naman po kumpleto o walang gamit ang kanilang health center.

    So many of our countrymen would need to travel many hours to the next barangay or the next town just to see the doctor. Lacking in medical equipment, training programs, adequate facilities, these communities have been relegated to the fringes of society.

    Ilang beses ko na po itong kaikuwento pero this is related to this one. In one town, it’s two towns away from Naga but still within my district, we were launching a nutrition program for impoverished children.

    The first day, we discovered that there was no baseline data. So sabi namin we cannot proceed without baseline data. Kaya magsisimula tayo magsusukat na kami ng mga bata.

    It was a good thing I went when barangay officials were about to measure the children because I saw they were about to use bathroom scales and tape measure. So sinabi ko wala ba kayong weighing scale, hiram na lang kayo sa ibang barangay.

    Buong town wala. Sabi ko wala ba kayong height board? Nilabas nila tapos nakalagay po, Ministry of Human Settlements, ganoon katagal.

    Sabi nila, Ma’am, hahanap na lang po kami ng bathroom scale at tape measure. Sabi ko hahanapan ko na lang kayo ng weighing scale at height boards.

    After I went to the regional office of DOH, magpapaturo sana ako kung saan kami makakahingi para sa mga barangay. Pagpunta ko doon sabi ng regional director, Ma’am marami kami niyan.

    Pumunta kami sa warehouse, and lo and behold, there is one warehouse full. So nasaan ang diperensya?

    Mayroon sila pero walang hindi alam ng barangay. Iyong barangay naman hindi humihingi.

    So ito ang significance kung bakit nandito tayo ngayong hapon. For the past 4 months, my team and I have been going around on very remote areas of our countries.

    Lending a listening ear and finding effective ways out of hopelessness and poverty. Iyong aming Fridays and Saturday iyan ang sinasabi naming aming mga Laylayan days. Tinitignan namin kung ano ang kanilang problema.

    Halimbawa, sa Palawan, we were in Palawan. One town is more popular than the other one. The first one is Culion and the other one is Agutaya. Agutaya is an island town. 10 hours by boat. Walang kuryente. Ang paaralan niya doon, nasira ng Yolanda pero di pa naaayos kasi wala masyadong nakakarating doon.

    May health centers na walang gamit. You know those things. We went there with two partners who are willing to adopt this town. But I think Agutaya is not an exemption.

    It is just one of the many far off places na hindi naabot ng tugtog ng kampana. So we really must take it upon ourselves to go. We went to a very barangay in Cullion. It’s called Malaking Patag, a farming barangay in Culion.

    Bihira lang doon ang farming barangay kasi nasa coast sila. Pero itong Malaking Patag, malayo siya, nasa may bukid. Pag punta namin doon, it was just supposed to be a consultation with farmers, noong nagsasalita iyong Mayor, umiiyak.

    Di namin naiintindihan bakit umiiyak, makita mo iyong kapitan, umiiyak. Iyon pala ang iniiyak nila tears of joy. Kasi first time sila nabisita ng isang national government official.

    So when confronted with these stories, we become more inspired to give more time and effort into reaching this, iyong tinatawag nating the last, the least and the lost. Kasi ito talaga iyong mga hindi masyadong inaabot.

    Sadly, the lack of access to the most basic of services continues to threaten and put to waste the hopes and aspirations of our people.

    We must not allow this to happen. Remember that when it is our children – the young innocent ones – who are caught in the midst of all these issues, we are also putting at risk the country’s future. If we are to dream of a better Philippines, we must all work together to empower and capacitate the Filipino family. But where do we begin?

    Ito po ang pino-process namin sa data namin. Because when after I won the vice presidency, kung naalala ninyo, mayroong mga pronouncements si Presidente na hindi ako bibigyan ng Cabinet position so pinaghahandaan ko iyon.

    Sabi ko kung wala akong ibang assignment, wala pala akong gagawin in the next 6 years. With just the usual things that the vice president does na ceremonial, political.

    So we brainstormed. I told my staff na I want to re-invent the office into a more advocacy heavy office. Pero wala kaming pondo. Pero sabi namin, sige makakahanap naman tayo ng paraan pero gawin natin agad.

    And the natural course was anti-poverty programs because it was my advocacy before I entered government, and continue to be my advocacy even when I was in Congress already.

    So we tried to assess what kind of anti-poverty programs would we follow thru. Naisip namin to have at its very core the Filipino family. And what better way to start that than with mothers. Kasi meron tayong mga feedings programs pero nag-uumpisa pag day care na ang mga bata, 3 or 4 years na. So medyo late na, pati ang intervention.

    So we decided mag-uumpisa tayo sa mga nanay. Maternal and child mortality. So that’s the, iyon ang umpisang iniisipan natin. Pag nanganak na, aasikasuhin iyong nutrition. Pero ang pinaka-basic na paniniwala sa nutrition, na malnutrition cannot be resolved by feeding alone. Kailangan may anti-poverty aspect ang programa.

    So when I was in Congress we launched a program called Partnership Against Poverty and Hungry. May inumpisahan po kami, we did that with DSWD, DAR and DA.

    Ang ginawa namin doon sa amin, nakiusap kami sa DSWD na kung puwedeng 30% ng lahat ng mga kailangan sa mga feeding programs bilhin sa mga mahihirap na farmers. Para may sigurado nang may benta. And we also talked to DA and DAR to give these very poor farmers their support. Pero we’ve had a lot of realizations.

    Number one, DA pala doesn’t help farmers who are not organized. Ang tinutulungan nila organized farmers. But the very poor farmers are not capacitated to organize themselves kasi ito ang mga isang kahig, isang tuka. Bakit ibibigay nila sa membership fees ang kanilang pera kung para na iyon sa pagkain nila. So tinulungan namin sila.

    We were able to organize certain groups of very small farmers. Pero ang nakaka-shock, ang average income ng farmers was only 1,800Php a month. So how are they able to feed and raise their children?

    So inalagaan namin. Pumasok kami sa isang kasunduan with DA and DAR na tutulungan sila, kami ang bahala sa organization, accreditation etc. pero bubuhusan sila ng lahat ng support services.

    So DA and DAR did because of the MOA. Nag-umpisa na sila. After 3 months, hindi nila kayang i-supply ang 30% kasi kulang pa ang kanilang produce.

    It is just one of the many far off places na hindi naabot ng tugtog ng kampana. So we really must take it upon ourselves to go. We went to a very barangay in Cullion. It’s called Malaking Patag, a farming barangay in Cullion.

    Bihira lang doon ang farming barangay kasi nasa coast sila. Pero itong Malaking Patag, malayo siya, nasa may bukid. Pag punta namin doon, it was just supposed to be a consultation with farmers, noong nagsasalita iyong mayor, umiiyak.

    Di namin naiintindihan bakit umiiyak, makita mo iyong kapitan, umiiyak. Iyon pala ang iniiyak nila tears of joy. Kasi first time sila nabisita ng isang national government official.

    So when confronted with these stories we become more inspired to give more time and effort into reaching this, iyong tinatawag nating the last, the least and the lost. Kasi ito talaga iyong mga hindi masyadong inaabot.

    Sadly, the lack of access to the most basic of services continues to threaten and put to waste the hopes and aspirations of our people. We must not allow this to happen. Remember that when it is our children – the young innocent ones – who are caught in the midst of all these issues, we are also putting at risk the country’s future. If we are to dream of a better Philippines, we must all work together to empower and capacitate the Filipino family. But where do we begin?

    After six months medyo kaya na nila ng konti, happy na sila “Ma’am! Hindi na 1,800 a month yung aming kita, 6,000 na.” So malaki ang jump. And, ano iyon, we’re on our second year now and their incomes are steadily rising, yung 6,000 naging 8,000, 8,000 naging 10,000.

    Iyong just after the elections, last ko silang nakausap, sabi nila 12,000 na daw ang kanilang kita. It’s a very big thing, from 1,800 to 12,000 is a lifetime already for a child diba.

    Pero ito ang punto namin, na if the local government units are proactive, there is so much that we can do, kaya ito yung inspirasyon natin. We have a number of local officials here, all very proactive local officials, na ang gusto naming idisplay. Iyong second- anong pangalan ulit ng award natin? Jessie Robredo Leadership award, ayan, andito siya. Most of the local government officials who are here are known to be very proactive.

    So ang gusto namin, hindi lang ma-recognize, in a platform such as this, but ipakilala, ipakita sa ibang mga local government officials na, by their example, maraming mga imposibleng nagiging posible. Maraming mga akala nating hindi kaya dahil sa kakulangan ng mga resources na pag, pag imaginative, creative, innovative yung mayor, kaya pa.

    So this is the very essence of this award. The very essence of this award is to recognize, is number one, to recognize local government officials who have this innovativeness, this creativity, resourcefulness in coming up with very good health programs.

    Pero more than the recognition, it’s to make their programs known to many other local officials to inspire them, to empower them, and hopefully manghahawa yung ganitong klaseng pag-iisip.

    So dito sa Office of the Vice President, iyo ang ginagawa namin, we’ve launched a five point anti-poverty program, tawag natin dito Angat Buhay, iyong limang points niya, isa health, but we’re concentrating on maternal and child care, iyong pangalawa is hunger and food security, pangatlo is education, we’re also concentrating on iyong pag-bridge ng K-12 towards possible employment already, but even more emphasis on vocational and technical capabilities.

    Pang-apat, rural development, iyong ginagamit po namin ditong konsepto, paano matutulungan iyong mga magsasakang mag-isip as entrepreneurs, kung paano sila ididikit sa mga supply chains.

    Kasi, kahit ang sipag-sipag nila, natataga sila ng sobrang middlemen, diba, nababarat sila ng napakamurang mga presyo. So we’re now looking at ways of connecting them with supply chains.

    There’s a very good model already started by Jollibee in Nueva Ecija. Iyong Jollibee, pumunta siya sa isang farming community sa Nueva Ecija, trinain niya ang mga farmers na mag-grow ng onions according to their specifications. Ano na, full bloom na ang partnership nila at na-diversify na sa ibang mga produkto.

    Three weeks ago, I was in Dampahan, South Cotabato, kasama ko naman doon ang Nestlé Foundation, sila naman gusto nilang mag-train din ng mga farmers din sa coffee and cocoa, para pag-ready na ang community, Nestlé siguradong bibili.

    So we’re looking at these kinds of things to help spur rural development, but because we can’t spread ourselves too thinly, there’s an entire country to help, we first piloted our program in 50 local government units based on poverty incidence and the proactiveness of the local officials.

    Iyong fifth is empowerment of women, at tinitingnan namin yung empowerment of women in terms of economic empowerment. Paniniwala namin na hindi natin matuturo yung gender equality at kung ano-ano pa kung hindi pa namna economically empowered ang women.

    So ang dami ko nang kuwento, hindi pa rin ako nagbasa ng, ng speech. But you know, we would want, we would like to thank MSD for being a very able partner all through these years.

    At tinatanong ko si Dr. Beaver, Doc bakit launch nanaman tayo? Nakailan na tayo? Sabi niya, hindi every two years kasi nirerelaunch natin.

    So we’d like to thank MSD for being a very able partner here, the DILG of course is here, sino pa ang partners natin? Jessie Robredo – Jessie Robredo Foundation. Kaya pala nagsasabi ng anak ko na hindi siya ngayon puwede, kasi may exam siya.

    Anyway, maraming salamat po, and again we hope na itong programang ito will inspire more government officials to follow suit, to follow the steps of our models here.

    Maraming salamat at magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

    Posted in Speeches on Nov 25, 2016