By Ellson Quismorio
Bulacan 1st district Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said the ongoing Bicameral Conference Committee hearings between congressmen and senators on the proposed 2019 national budget are a “golden opportunity” to correct deficiencies in the budget allocation for the Department of Health (DOH).
Alvarado, a vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, had this to say Monday in the light of House Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s request for the Bicam panels to increase the DOH budget under the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) by P10 billion in order to improve the delivery of health services.
“Batid ng ating minamahal na Tagapagsalita na si Kagalanggalang na Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at lahat ng kinatawan na marami pang kakulangan sa pasilidad, kagamitan at health workers,” Alvarado said in a press conference at the House of the Representative.
(Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and all House members know that there are still deficiencies as far as facilities, equipment and Health workers are concerned.)
“Yun nga po ang kagandahan na mayroon tayong Bicameral Conference Committee, yun pong mga kakulangan ay maidadagdag natin. At yung mga di natin nagawang bagay noong nai-pasa po natin na bersyon ng House of Representatives ay magagawa po natin ngayon,” he explained.
(That’s the beauty of having the Bicameral Conference Committee, we can now address these deficiencies. The things that we failed to do in the House of Representatives version can also be addressed.)
Incidentally, the Bulacan lawmaker was the one who sponsored and defended the DOH budget in the House plenary last September.
The passage of the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019 has had it rough in the legislature, mainly due to its newfangled, “cash-based” nature. All past budgets are obligations-based.
The Bicam meetings, which aim to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the GAB resumed Monday at the Manila Polo Club.
“Yung P10 billion po ay itemized po nating isa-submit ayon po sa kahilingan ng Department of Health at mga kahilingan ng taumbayan lalong lalo napo yung mga barrio na kumpleto na yung pasilidad, pero hindi pa nagagamit,” Alvarado said.
(The P10 billion will be submitted as itemized based on the request of the Department of Health as well as residents of villages where health facilities are complete but remain unused.)
Alvarado said there are health facilities in far-flung areas that end up being used as storage area for farming implements.
“Yun po ay ginawa para maging health facility, hindi imbakan lamang (That was intended to be a health facility, not a mere storage area),” he noted.
“Kaya itong pagkakataong ito ay nagkakaroon po tayo ng mga pagtatama sa mga bagay pong iyan. Kaya huwag po sana nating sayangin itong binibigay sa atin na ginintuang pagkakataon (That’s why we are now having the opportunity to correct those things. We shouldn’t waste this golden opportunity),” he further said.