By Raydes B. Barcia

Legazpi City — Members of the Agta-Tabangnon tribesmen in Sorsogon province were given free medical health care services as the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) brought their services to the Indigenous Peoples of Pilar town on Monday.        

Alfredo J. Jubilo, head of PhilHealth in Sorsogon province, in partnership with the Department of Health, provincial health office (PHO) Sorsogon and the NCIP Bicol Sorsogon Service Center provides free healthcare services to Agta-Tabangnon tribesmen dubbed as “ALAGA KA,” A Health Literacy Campaign and undertaking for the Indigenous Peoples in Sorsogon province. 

Jubilo said that the activity aims to attain the level of status and readiness of the indigenous people, particularly on the Universal Health Care (UHC) program of the PhilHealth.

“As scheduled, the firstbeneficiaries were the Agta-Tabangnon in the municipality of Pilar whereinaround 82 IPs benefited from the program,” Jubilo said.

The IPs according to PhilHealth official in Sorsogon were assisted for PhilHealth membership registration; registration of IP beneficiaries to a Konsulta benefits provider; medical consultation and check-up with public health physicians and free medicines.

Similarly, the PhilippineStatistic Authority (PSA) conducted an online registration for the Agta-Tabangnon and Agta Cimaron in the municipality of Pilar, who has not yet availed the national ID as valid proof of their identity in transacting business with the government or any private sector.

The tribesmen in Bicol live in far-flung barangays as well as forest lands across the other provinces ofthe Bicol Region.

Across Bicol Peninsula, the IPs are found in the hinterlands of Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.

The Agta tribal communities in Bicol are subdivided into several sub tribes: Agta-Tabangon; Agta-Cimaron; Agta Taboy; Dumagat; and the Kabihugs of Camarines Norte. They are the predominant IP groups in the region.

Based on NCIP records, there are 9,007 IP families, 24,507 males and 24,187 females or a total population of48,743 as of April 2016.

Including the undocumented tribesmen, it is estimated that some 213,311 IPs are scattered all over the region.

Among the six provinces of Bicol, Camarines Sur has the biggest number of tribal communities with 4,799 families; 13,336 males and 12,863 females or a total of 26,199. They are followed by Sorsogon province with 2,231 families with 6,174 males, 5,953 females, or a total of 12,127.

In Albay province there are 1,229 families, 3,471 males and 3,427 females or a total population of 6,947. Camarines Norte has 774 families, 1,526 males and 1,944 females or a total of 3,470 Kabihug tribal population.

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