Senators disappointed over huge slash in health budget   | Inquirer News

Senators disappointed over huge slash in health budget  

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 04:55 AM August 22, 2023

Facade of the Department of Health with the DOH logo superimposed over the photo

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Monday took up the cudgels for the Department of Health (DOH) as they vowed to defend its budget for next year after Malacañang cut its allocation by P10 billion under the government’s proposed P5.768-trillion spending program for 2024.

“We can make sacrifices elsewhere, but we cannot compromise [the] budget for health programs,” Sen. JV Ejercito told the Inquirer.


Ejercito stressed that sufficient funding should be set aside for the continued implementation of the Universal Health Care Law, which he had principally sponsored.


House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto on Sunday flagged the significant decrease in the recommended allotment for DOH, whose proposed budget dropped to P199 billion after getting P209 billion for 2023.

According to Recto, the annual funding for the country’s four major specialty health facilities — the Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Heart Center of the Philippines, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center— was slashed by a total of P818 million.

“We will definitely look into this when we deliberate the National Expenditure Program in the Senate,” Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. said in a Viber message.

“Health care should be, as it always has been, a priority in formulating the national budget,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Francis Tolentino said those who prepared the government’s budget for the health sector should explain the reduction in the DOH’s outlay.

However, they both said the previous allegations of corruption in the disbursement of funds for the government’s pandemic supplies should be a factor in determining the appropriate budget for the DOH.


“The overall needs of the people should not be sacrificed because of the greed of the few,” Tolentino said. “During the deliberations, we will ask for the specific reasons for the reduction [in the DOH’s budget].”

Tolentino also insisted that the four state-owned specialty hospitals “deserve more resources considering that they treat noncommunicable chronic diseases that … [affect] a large segment of our population.”

For his part, Pimentel said the DOH should ensure that there would be “no wastage and leakages when it comes to the purchase of vaccines, medicines, vitamins, and other supplies.”

“We should not cut the budget for basic services,” the Senate minority leader said.

“But in calculating the amounts needed for the basic services,” he added, “we should also not allow the bloating of these amounts.”

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee, was confident that the lawmakers would eventually set aside a bigger budget for the health department.

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“Legislators historically augment the [spending] program for the Medical Assistance for Indigents Fund,” Angara said.

Recto disclosed that the allotment for the item was reduced by more than P10 billion, leaving it to just P22.2 billion compared with the present budget of P32.6 billion.


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TAGS: 2024 DOH budget, 2024 national budget, Department of Health

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