Controversy over P1-B RH budget cut rages
A furious Senator Pia Cayetano disclosed on Monday that the P1-billion cut in the Department of Health’s (DOH) “procurement of commodities “ under the family health and responsible parenting (FHRP) was not the same item that they passed in the Senate.
Cayetano said this was not also “revealed” to them when they voted in the bicameral conference committee.
“After looking into relevant documents, our office confirms the P1-billion cut in the DOH’s procurement of commodities under family health and responsible parenting,” Cayetano, principal author of the Reproductive Health Law, said in a statement.
“This was not the third reading version we passed in the Senate, and neither was this major cut on reproductive health, which is a very important part of health care, revealed to us when we voted on the bicameral report,” she said.
Cayetano said what was reflected in the bicam report was a P1-billion cut in the special provision on “purchase and allocation of drugs, medicines and vaccines.”
“There was no mention of any cuts in the line item budget for family planning,” she pointed out.
“But in the final version that is reflected now in the GAA (General Appropriations Act), there is a line item for family planning that shows a P1 billion reduction. This was never reported to us,” said the senator.
Thus, Cayetano said, Senator Loren Legarda’s claim that senators were informed of the amendments before they voted in the bicameral report last December 14, 2015 had no basis. Legarda, chairs the Senate committee of finance.
“The details of this P1 billion cut were only made known following President Aquino’s signing of the General Appropriations Act on December 28, 2015. This was after the DOH discovered the reduction and exposed it,” Cayetano said.
“Naglolokohan tayo dito when our finance committee headed by Senator Loren Legarda can submit a bicam report to senators that do not show the significant changes made. That is unethical and unacceptable,” she further said.
Legarda earlier said that all information about the 2016 national budget were available to both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it was enacted into law.
“All senators were given a copy of the bicameral conference committee report before they voted to ratify. The first page of the report shows both the increases and the decreases in the budget of all agencies including the Department of Health (DOH),” she said in a statement last Friday.
She explained that in the process of reconciliation of the differences between the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) and the Senate proposal, the bicameral committee had identified agencies that need to be provided additional funds and had also identified the sources to fund the proposed increases.
“The decision to cut the allocation for the DOH’s Family Health and Responsible Parenting (FHRP) was done after assessing its possible impact on the program,” she said.
“ We took note that as of June 2015, the DOH status of funds showed that of the P3.27 Billion allocation for FHRP, only P955 Million had been obligated or 29%. For the remaining six months, P2.3 Billion or 71% has yet to be obligated. The unused 2015 budget is still available in 2016 and the agencies may augment deficient items from their savings,” Legarda further said.
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