Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez wants to restore the budget cuts made to the University of the Philippines (UP) System and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
Under the proposed 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the premier state university would see a cut of P2.5 billion while PGH would suffer a cut of P893 million.
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman turned over the P5.268 trillion-worth 2023 NEP to House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Monday, Aug. 22.
“We should be increasing the budgetary allocations of state universities and colleges (SUCs) which are the poor student’s schools of choice, and government hospitals, which are the pauper’s go-to health facilities, instead of reducing their funds,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
According to the Mindanao solon, the Marcos administration's slashing funds to UP and PGH would send the wrong message.
As Rodriguez explains, UP and other SUCs are the preferred tertiary education institutions of students of the indigent sector; the same goes for PGH and the indigent population in need of healthcare.
“Unlike private health facilities, these hospitals are allocated medical assistance funds in the national budget, which they use to help poor patients...PGH is at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. At the height of the health crisis, it was full of Covid-19 patients,” Rodriguez said.
While the UP System and PGH both saw budget cuts in the 2023 NEP, both education and health were designated as priority sectors and both saw major budget increases overall.
A total of P852.8 billion was allocated to the education sector. This is P64.3 billion higher than the current P788.5-billion budget under the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Meanwhile, the 2023 NEP proposed P296.3 billion for the health sector--an increase of P27.9 billion versus the 2022 GAA budget of P268.4 billion.
Rodriguez said that the DBM could revise the submitted 2023 NEP through a budget errata to the House of Representatives. “They did that in the past. It is they who could easily make the necessary adjustments.”
It should also be noted that the DBM’s 2023 NEP is not yet final. Congress can adjust the allocations in the subsequent budget hearings as long as the adjustments do not go over or under the originally proposed value, or P5.268 trillion in this case.