Press Release
November 19, 2019


19 NOVEMBER 2019

Mr. President, it goes without saying that access to quality healthcare remains one of the pressing concerns that our countrymen face today. It is for this reason that public health has been identified as one of the priorities by President Rodrigo Duterte during his 2019 State of the Nation Address and in the development agenda of the country since our adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It is therefore my honor to present to you the proposed 2020 budget for the Department of Health and its attached agencies and corporations.

Mr. President, for the Department of Health, we have increased the budget from P88.9 billion in the General Appropriations Bill to P96.3 billion in our Committee Report. The total new appropriations for the Department of Health and its attached agencies are broken down as follows:

For the Office of the Secretary - P95,897,787,000.00

For the National Nutrition Council - P461,033,000.00

For the attached corporations, the budgetary support to government corporations under the Department of Health is P76,425,614,000.00.

The substantial increase of P7.4 billion includes the allocation of additional P7 billion for the Human Resources for Health Deployment Program. This is to ensure the continued employment of our health workers whose services are badly needed in poor, underserved and far-flung areas.

Other increases in the DOH budget are P350 million for the open defecation project to ensure sanitary conditions of those who still do not have toilet facilities, P6 million for public health management and P80 million for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). RITM has a valuable role in public health, especially in surveillance and control of disease outbreaks.

For the budgetary support to PhilHealth, Mr. President, we have increased the subsidy for the premiums of indirect contributors from P67.3 billion to P72.3 billion. This is to support PhilHealth in the initial implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.

As Chairman of the Committee on Health, and Vice-Chair of Finance handling their budget, I will defend and push for the much needed increase in the health budget - especially for our health workers who care for the sick. However, I would like to put it on record that although I am the sponsor of their budget, I will be the first to stand up and call out DOH if there are inefficiencies or irregularities in the spending of their budget. I will not hesitate to talk to the President, if needed. Kahit ako ay nagdedepensa ng inyong budget, ako ang mauuna ninyong makakalaban kung may anomalya sa paggastos ng budget. Remember: zero-tolerance si President Duterte sa korapsyon. Sa gumagawa ng corruption: "There is no tomorrow..."

I also urge the DOH and other government agencies to ensure that every centavo of the people's money is put to good use, wisely spent, and used solely for the intended purpose. Dapat walang masayang ni-piso. I call on our departments and agencies, including the DOH, to fully utilize and improve their efficiency in spending their budgets.

Some of our colleagues initially signified their intention to interpellate, but in the interest of expediting the process, they have agreed not to interpellate on the condition that their individual concerns will be addressed by the DOH. I ask the DOH to work on the concerns of our colleagues.

And for the record, Mr. President, I refuse to answer any questions involving the actions of the previous administration and personal issues as I have no personal knowledge on those matters.

We are now ready to accept questions from our colleagues.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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