Senators move to restore P24.5-B Health dept budget for hospitals, clinics

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2019 07:26 PM

MANILA - Several lawmakers on Tuesday pushed for the restoration of some P24.5 billion in the Department of Health's (DOH) 2019 budget to enhance hospital facilities and to fund hiring of hospital workers.

The sum was originally revoked by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) after the DOH failed to consume its 2018 budget.

"If you are going to follow the rationale of the DBM, they are punishing the Filipino people for the alleged inefficiency of the bureaucracy which is unfair,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said during the Health department's budget hearing at the Senate.

Senate Committee on Health and Demography's JV Ejercito, Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, and Senator Loren Legarda backed Drilon's motion to restore the slashed allocation either by sourcing funds from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or the Assistance to the Local Government Unit (ALGU) funds.

"I support the restoration of that budget as it will truly enhance the Universal Health Care Law that was recently passed," Zubiri told ABS-CBN News.

"Without these facilities then the law would be ineffective in areas without medical centers," he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who was at the budget deliberation, said the restoration of the funds would help lessen queues in hospitals and clinics.

The Health department has constructed 900 new hospitals and health centers, Duque said.

About 168 other public medical facilities are nearly completed, he said.