By Camille A. Aguinaldo, January 15 2019; Business World
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SENATE Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon wants to restore the P24.5 billion taken from the Department of Health (DoH) in the 2019 proposed national budget to fund the agency’s health facilities program and human resources.
During deliberations on the DoH budget, Mr. Drilon proposed for the restored budget to be sourced from a portion of the additional funds allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which were included in the 2019 national budget without the agencies’ prior knowledge.
“The amount could be sourced from the P75 billion in additional funding that went to the DPWH or the P27.7 billion supposedly for assisting local government units that went to DILG,” Mr. Drilon said.
“I hope that the good sponsor can push this in the committee on finance amendments so we can respond to the health needs of our people rather than the flood control projects,” he added.
In response, Finance committee vice-chairperson Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito said, “Yes that is very much welcome.”
About P75 billion was added to the DPWH budget, and P27 billion to the DILG’s funding under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) without the prior knowledge of the agencies concerned. The Senate on Monday moved for the deletion of DPWH’s P75 billion.
Mr. Ejercito said the P24.5 billion set to be restored to the DoH budget will fund the department’s health facilities enhancement program (HFEP) and the human resources for health (HRH) program.
“This will be a great preparation as we anticipate the first year of the implementation of the universal health care program,” he said in mobile message to reporters.
With the restored budget, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said the department will focus on acquiring equipment for its new health facilities and to complete facilities which have exceeded 70% construction progress.
“It’s a catch-up plan. The focus will be on completing the building or infrastructure programs that have been started few years back,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Senate’s budget deliberations. — Camille A. Aguinaldo