Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004

About

@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Speech delivered on September 12, 2011 during the plenary budget deliberations. Thanks to @kabataanpl and Diane for drafting the interpellation notes.

1. The president, through the budget message, reported that in order to improve maternal health, and the well-being of infants, the government has allocated P5.1 billion for the implementation of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program. But what he failed to mention was that the funding was actually reduced from the current P7.1 billion to the proposed P5.1 billion. I hope that the reduction will not seriously affect the delivery of maternal and infant healthcare in the country.

2. In the 2010 budget, under Healthcare Assistance, the government allocated P36 million for ‘Subsidy to Indigent Patients for Confinement in Specialty Hospitals and for the use of specialized equipment.’ In 2011, the budget was reduced to P16 million; but at least there was a subsidy intended for indigents because the item was completely removed in the 2012 budget bill. I’m worried that this fund scrapping will deprive the indigent patients of health services that are unavailable in government hospitals. Is this the government’s latest poverty reduction measure? Eliminate the poor by denying them access to appropriate healthcare and service?

3. It’s unfortunate that the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses item of several hospitals was not increased. In fact, 5 of the 12 Metro Manila-based special hospitals, and 18 of the 54 local hospitals nationwide didn’t receive an increase in their MOOE allotment. Because of this limited MOOE budget, hospitals have implemented an increase in the rates of health services they are offering to our people. Also, mandatory discounts like senior citizens’ and government employees’ discounts remain unfunded thereby competing for limited MOOE allotment.

While we welcome the P94 million token increase in the MOOE of our specialty hospitals or Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation hospitals (Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and Philippine Heart Center), it’s important to highlight that the hospitals have not regained the P970.6 million cut in their MOOE since 2010.

4. We learned too from the president’s budget message that the government has allotted P224 million to fund programs against HIV and other infectious diseases. I have two suggestions to the Department of Health with regard to this allocation: 1) Specify the amount to be used to address the particular diseases. How much from the P224 million will be used to combat HIV? How much for dengue? And how much for food and water borne diseases? 2) The DOH should also allot more funds to address HIV/AIDS. This is now a youth problem and I hope the government will realize the urgency of strengthening our health system to curb the rise of this dreaded disease.

5. At the proper time, this representation will be proposing amendments to the budget bill so that social service institutions like the DOH will receive more funds from the government. The UN prescription is that at the minimum, 5 percent of the country’s GDP is allotted to health service.

It’s quite disturbing that our health agency doesn’t receive the high fund support that it deserves to get from the government.

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