Sen. Binay hits cut to RITM budget and P11-B hike for anti-insurgency
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday slammed the proposed P11 billion hike in next year’s budget of an anti-insurgency task force while slashing the country’s primary infectious disease research and laboratory facility by P170 million.
From P16.4 billion this year, Malacañang is proposing to raise the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) to P28 billion next year.
Funding for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine’s (RITM), however, would be reduced to P223 million from the existing P393 million, Binay said.
“Whats happening? Ang kalaban natin ay COVID. Mas importante ba ang ELCAC kaysa RITM? [Our enemy is COVID. Is Elcac more important than RITM] It does not make sense. Government seems to be removed from the realities on the ground,” she said in a statement.
RITM, she stressed, should be given high priority, and its budget must be “expanded and increased” instead of slashing it.
“At a time when we need a reliable and stable lead center in our fight against the pandemic, DBM [Department of Budget and Management] chooses to cut back RITM’s budget. Year-in, year-out, binabawasan lagi. Di ba ang dapat gawin ay ang palakasin pa lalo ang mga public health service institutions, hindi pahinain [Year-in, year-out, it is always being reduced. Isn’t it we need to intensify our public health service institutions, not weaken it]?” she said.
Binay also lamented the disparity in funding and how the war against COVID and the war against insurgency are being handled as it shows “how misplaced Malacañang’s priorities are under a pandemic.”
“As RITM is already struggling in building their manpower and lab resources, babawasan pa ang budget nila. Yung masaklap is that NTF-ELCAC’s budget is inflated to billions, while depriving RITM–a legitimate government institution–of funds necessary to provide critical laboratory services in time of a pandemic. It doesn’t make any sense at all,” she further said.
As she vowed to oppose the proposed NTF-ELCAC budget next year, Binay said she would ask her fellow senators to raise the fundings for government health research initiatives, disease surveillance, genomic testings, and national public hospitals.
“Given the limited fiscal sources, it is morally unacceptable and wrong to priotize P28 billion on a misplaced agenda over a crucial public health agenda that has a direct impact on the health of 100 million Filipinos…”
“Timing of testing is crucial. Let’s equip, retool and modernize RITM. Give them the latitude to hire more scientists. RITM needs the necessary funding support–lalo pa ngayong (especially now that) we’re racing against time and finding ways in tapping resources judiciously in fighting both known and unknown diseases. Hindi pula ang kulay ng kalaban. Ang laban ngayon ay kung paano mabuhay,” Binay went on.
(Red is not our enemy. The fight now is how to survive)
The senator wants Congress in particular to give the RITM “a big budget boost in order to increase its scale and scope, and strengthen its role in medical research and public health.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.