Senators worry over budget cuts suffered by health, education agencies

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2022 05:36 PM

Senators JV Ejercito and Koko Pimentel. (Voltaire F. Domingo and Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB)
Senators JV Ejercito and Koko Pimentel. (Voltaire F. Domingo and Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB)

MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday expressed his concern about the budget cuts in essential government offices and agencies.

“We can propose getting the funds from the 'difficult to account' fund items like intel (intelligence) and confi (confidential) funds,” Pimentel, in a text message to ABS-CBN News, stated.

The reaction was made amid a series of reported budget cuts applied to a number of agencies for next year’s more than P5 trillion national budget.

Among those in the list are:

• National Commission for Culture and the Arts
• National Historical Commission of the Philippines
• National Archives of the Philippines
• National Library of the Philippines
• Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation
• University of the Philippines
• Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
• Commission on Human Rights

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier said the budget cuts for the University of the Philippines (UP) system and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) were for non-recurring programs.

Under the 2023 National Expenditure Program, UP’s proposed budget is 9.8 percent lower than its 2022 funding, while the PGH’s allocation is 5.1 percent less than what it received this year.

Senator JV Ejercito, vice chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said agencies providing health and education must not suffer budget cuts.

“Programs for education, for health, cannot be compromised. We can make sacrifices elsewhere, but not for these two programs, especially yung health at this time… With higher education, this is an investment for the future. This is an investment for human resource. Hindi natin pwede ring i-compromise ito. Kasi that is where we are cut above the rest in the world,” he said.

As for IBC-13, Ejercito assured its employees that he will do everything to source fund for the TV station.

Senate Finance committee chairman Sen. Sonny Angara meantime opted to wait for the budget hearings first before commenting on the matter.

The Senate will start deliberating on per agency budget starting September 12, Angara said.