By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate has restored the P24.5 billion that had been cut from the Department of Health (DOH) proposed budget for 2019.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito confirmed that the P24.5 billion had been restored to the Health department, saying P16.4-billion would be used to fund the equipment and accreditation of various health facilities under the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program or HFEP.
Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said P7.4 billion would be used for the human resource for health (HRH) to ensure the continuous employment of more than 10,000 nurses and health professionals deployed throughout the country.
Ejercito, who is also vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee and tasked to defend the DOH’s budget, thanked Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for pressing for the restoration of the budget of the HFEP budget.
He said slashing of the HFEP budget would be a disaster for the DOH and the initial year of the implementation of the Universal HealthCare Program.
“This would be a great preparation as we anticipate the first year of the implementation of the Universal HealthCare Program,” Ejercito said.
“This is the beauty of the Senate. We cross party lines for the interest of the Filipino people,” he said.
Drilon had earlier said that if the DOH’s budget cut was not restored, a number of health facilities, which have either been wholly or partially completed, cannot be functional.
The minority chief said there are around 900 health facilities with 100 percent completed infrastructure and existing human resource but need equipment for licensing and/or PhilHealth accreditation.
He also said there are also 328 health facilities, which are at least 80 to 90 percent complete, are in danger of being left unfinished due to the budget cut.
Drilon said the amount needed by the DOH can be sourced from the controversial P75-billion “inserted” into the budget of the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Both agencies had denied requesting for additional funds and were clueless as to how they will spend the additional funding inserted in their respective budgets during the Senate’s deliberation into the proposed P3.757-trillion for 2019, Drilon pointed out.