By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Minority bloc on Wednesday (Feb. 5) asked the Department of Health (DOH) to submit a “detailed list and plan” on how it intends to spend the P1 billion supplemental budget it has requested from Congress to contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the country.
House Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante said the DOH, headed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque, should provide details about the proposed supplemental budget.
“We want a detailed list and plan on how the DOH intends to use the P1 billion fund, to make sure it will indeed be used to address the needs to contain this virus,” he told reporters in a press conference.
He took a swipe at Duque for not formally asking the Congress to provide them with an augmentation fund.
“We are wary over the DOH’s request to approve P1 billion supplementary fund. First of all, Secretary Duque directed the request in a media conference, instead of formally requesting the fund from Congress who has the power of the purse,” Abante said.
He also asked the Inter-Agency Task Force headed by Duque to get their act together, saying the coronavirus as a public health threat should be taken seriously.
“We see the need to come together to address this outbreak. I personally believe this is not the time to point fingers, but we ask the DOH and the concerned agencies at the forefront of the efforts to contain this disease to get their acts together and focus on the problem at hand,” the House opposition leader said.
He said the death of a 44-year old Chinese man from the virus over the weekend underscored the need “for us to take this virus seriously.”
“We stress that it is imperative that the DOH prevent this virus from being spread, especially among young school children. I believe that the Department of Education is suspending and discouraging big gatherings among students and that even private schools are cancelling activities like their proms.
“We in the minority support such actions, as an overabundance of caution is preferable to ignoring the potential dangers of transmitting the virus,” Abante said.