Makabayan solons denounce cuts in DOH, CHED 2020 proposed budgets
MANILA, Philippines — Makabayan bloc lawmakers slammed on Friday the slash in the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for 2020.
This is despite the increase in the proposed 2020 national budget, which amounts to P4.1 trillion.
Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite noted that the proposed P166.5-billion budget of the DOH is almost 10 percent less of its budget given this year.
He also noted that about half of the budget, or about P67.35 billion, goes to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), despite the agency’s low utilization rate of 10 to 11 percent.
PhilHealth was earlier embroiled in several alleged fraudulent activities, including “ghost” dialysis claims, among others.
“Malaking bahagi ng pondo ng PhilHealth ay naiipon lamang at kaya nga siguro takam na takam ang tiwali rito kasi pinagpipiyestahan nila ‘yung pondo ng PhilHealth,” Zaite said.
The Bayan Muna lawmaker also pointed out that the budget for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which caters to indigent Filipinos, decreased by 14.11 percent, from P3.2 billion in 2019 to P2.77 billion in 2020.
He noted that the PGH requested for a budget of P4.5 billion to be able to provide their services to Filipinos.
“How can the PGH, how can the DOH, truly provide the necessary services para sa ating mga mamamayan?” Gaite asked.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the DOH’s budget cut would have a huge impact on the agency’s abilities to address prevalent diseases in the country such as dengue.
“Hindi maresolba ng kasalukuyang administrasyon ang usapin ng dengue kaya kumakalat. Nahihirapan ang ating mamamayan, walang pasilidad at equipment para dito,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat said the DOH budget cut would mean that health services would not reach indigenous people’s communities, such as the lumads.
“Iilan lang ‘yung ethnolinguistic na grupo ng mga lumad na mabibigyan ng serbisyo at hindi din ito sapat kasi ang nalagay lang doon ‘yung mga medical mission na pang isang taon lang mabibigay sa mga komunidad,” she said.
Budget cuts on CHED, SUCs
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said that CHED’s budget cut would affect the funding for scholarships and financial assistance programs for tertiary students.
The CHED’s budget for 2020 is P40.7 billion, while its budget allocation for 2019 was P52.4 billion.
The budget cut was due to the low utilization rate of CHED, which Elago said the agency should be accountable for.
“Kailangan managot itong CHED pagdating doon sa mga kakulangan sa pagpapa-abot ng mabilis at maaasahan na serbisyo sa mga scholarships at financial assistance,” Elago said.
She also noted that 53 state universities and colleges (SUCs) will have cuts on their overall budgets, particularly on its budget for personnel services.
This would mean massive layoffs, Elago noted.
The Kabataan party-list, along with the Makabayan bloc, has filed a House resolution that seeks to restore the budgets of the SUCs, and increase their budgets for personnel services and capital outlay.
ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro expressed concern over the unfilled positions of teachers and non-teaching personnel.
“Kung tutuusin ay marami sanang nahaha-hire at meron namang budget pero hindi ito ginagawa,” she said.
The groups said the 2020 budget focused on warfare, instead of health, education services.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate pointed out that instead of funnelling funds to health and educational services, the government seems to be focusing on giving funds for warfare, as seen on the increase of budgets for the law enforcement agencies and intelligence funds.
Zarate is pertaining to the proposed 2020 budgets of the Department of National Defense (DND), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), as well as the increase on the Office of the President’s intelligence fund.
“Ito ay budget hindi para sa progreso at katahimikan ng ating bayan, kundi ito ay budget ng giyera, budget para sa pag-igting ng pasismo sa mga darating na panahon,” Zarate said in a press conference.
Zarate also criticized Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s push for realignment of funds to the development of police and military camps nationwide. He said this should not be prioritized over the needs of workers like higher and livable wage.
“Ang panawagan ngayon ng mamamayan hindi dagdag pondo sa mga kampo, hindi dagdag pondo sa gyera, kundi dagdag sahod sa mga manggagawa, pabahay, national minimum wage sa mga manggagawa,” the lawmaker said. /jpv
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