Recto: Easy to find means to restore PGH budget cut
MANILA, Philippines — Congress can easily find sources to restore the P456 million that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had trimmed from the funding allocation to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for 2020, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
“The national budget [for next year] is P4.1 trillion. It won’t be difficult (to reinstate the PGH budget),” Recto told the Inquirer on Tuesday night.
Same as SUCs
He said there was “so much government (fund) wastage that we can reduce and put into more important expenditures like health care and the PGH.”
What could be done to the budgets of state colleges and universities (SUCs) and regional hospitals, could be done to PGH, a national hospital, Recto said. “It has been done every year. We have always increased the budget for SUCs and regional hospitals.”
From P3.23B to P2.77B
Recto, who formerly headed the Senate ways and means committee, had flagged the significant drop in the yearly allotment for PGH, which is contained in the budget of the University of the Philippines system.
From P3.23 billion this year, the Senate leader noted that PGH was slated to get only P2.77 billion for 2020 in the national expenditure program submitted by the DBM.
Besides the 14-percent reduction in the PGH budget, he called out the executive department for slashing P10.6 billion from the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the Department of Health (DOH).
Recto likewise disclosed that the DOH and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. were shortchanged by P28.3 billion in their share of the sin tax collection in the government’s spending plan for 2020.
Go taking up matter
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate health committee, supported Recto’s initiative to provide additional funds for PGH, whose patients are usually indigents from the provinces.
The hospital handles an average of 600,000 patients a year.
Go said he would immediately discuss the matter with the DBM and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“We should give what is due our health services. Personally, the health sector is my priority. I will help [PGH],” Go said.
Recto said the Senate may realign a portion of the P5.7-billion allotment for next year’s barangay elections since Congress had already passed a measure moving it to December 2022.
In addition, he said the government could reapportion the budget for travel expenses and even for Christmas parties of various state agencies for PGH operations.
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