To ensure that district hospitals get their much-needed funds, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Tuesday, Oct. 5 pushed for the devolution of the budget of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) from the Department of Health (DOH) central office.
Lacson said local government unit (LGU) officials he has talked to have expressed concern that while the district hospitals are located in their areas, the funds are still lodged with the DOH central office.
“Bakante or kulang ang facilities or unmanned ang district hospitals, because DOH sometimes is slow in downloading or procuring equipment for district hospitals. Hindi nagkaroon ng serbisyong totoo sa district hospitals (District hospitals are unmanned or do not have enough facilities because the DOH is sometimes slow in downloading or procuring equipment for district hospitals. There is no true service in district hospitals as a result),” Lacson said in interpellating the proposed 2022 P190.33 billion budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
He then proposed to ensure that local units could implement and procure the needed facilities for district hospitals and even provincial hospitals.
“I think for the 2022 budget, we should itemize and even earmark already funds for the HFEP and even personnel that will man the district hospitals. Kulang na kulang ang pondo sa ibang provinces especially the poorer ones, nakatiwangwang sa district hospitals (For the 2022 budget, we should itemize and even earmark funds for the HFEP and even personnel that will man the district hospitals. Funds are needed especially in the poorer provinces),” he emphasized.
This would allow the local units to implement and procure the needed facilities for district hospitals and even provincial hospitals, Lacson said.
Lacson, who has championed the downloading of funds to the LGUs for their development projects, maintains that this would also address the situation of the DOH’s unused appropriations growing bigger.
“Ang nangyayari ngayon, ang laki ng unused appropriation sa DOH (What is happening now is that the DOH has a huge unused appropriation),” he posited.
Senate local government committee chairman Francis Tolentino shared Lacson’s stand. “Totally agree,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson reiterated his call for the participation of civil society organizations in the planning of local development projects.
He said some LGUs do not invite CSOs because they deemed them to delay the preparation of local development plans.
Lacson cited records showing that of 1,452 LGUs, only 87 percent comply with the requirement to have CSOs participate in preparing local development plans.
“I always emphasize the importance of citizens’ participation. I’m encouraging that in committee hearings at the national level, there should be at least observers or resource persons from CSOs. But my question is, in actual practice, are they really actively participating?” he asked.