MANILA - The Department of Health's budget for next year was cut by P16.6 billion, former health chief and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said Tuesday, amid an outbreak of dengue and measles and the resurgence of polio in the country.
"Every department is supposed to have a 5 to 10 percent increase annually considering the increase in population. Ito bumaba na nga at very important programs 'yung nabawasan (It decreased and the budget of very important programs was slashed)," Garin told ANC's Early Edition.
Garin earlier said the DOH budget was cut by P10 billion, but upon further inspection, she said it was actually P16.6 billion because the human resource allocations was transferred to the Department of Budget and Management.
The DBM would have to seek the President's approval for the release of funds to the DOH, she said.
The former health chief said there was a 71 percent reduction in the DOH's fund for human resources deployment, which would affect its immunization program since the agency needs experts and personnel who would administer the vaccine.
There was also a 63 percent reduction in the health facilities enhancement program (HFEP), which Garin said would affect government's implementation of the Universal Health Care law.
"Many congressmen were clamoring for the resurrection for the budget of the HFEP because we keep on telling the people is Universal Health Care is here and we’re allocating a big chunk of DOH budget to PhilHealth premium," she said.
"But how can we utilize PhilHealth if it’s embroiled in a lot of controversies and more importantly if hospitals are not accredited simply because the equipment are not available?"
Garin added that there was a 45 percent decline in the department's budget for its rabies vaccination program and a 16 percent decrease in its non-communicable diseases program, among others.
The lawmaker said both the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) were to blame for the budget decrease.
The health department was unable to defend its budget before the DBM, according to Garin, and only accepted what it was given by the budget department.
"As conveyed to us by the DBM, the people defending the budget of the DOH cannot concretely answer the questions they were bombarding," she said.
"Pinaglalaban mo kasi 'yung budget ng departamento (You fight for your department's budget), you don’t just accept what’s being given to you because the people in the DBM are not in the frontlines."
Garin, meantime, denied the claims of Sen. Panfilo Lacson that there were insertions for congressmen in the 2020 national expenditure fund.
"I think that’s highly impossible, P1.6 billion for deputy speakers is very impossible, P700 million per congressman is also very impossible. If the insertions were there, it can be seen," she said.