Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas on Thursday lamented the massive P10.86-billion cut in critical public health programs under the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Brosas, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, said the Department of Health's (DOH) public health management subprogram is set to suffer a budget cut by P337.45 million, while the health emergency management budget will decrease by P46.9 million.
Moreover, the budget for epidemiology and surveillance program will also be further cut to only P112 million for next year from P263 million in 2019 and P115.5 million in 2020.
"Binibida ng gobyernong ito ang pagbibigay daw ng prayoridad sa health at COVID-19 response sa 2021 budget pero tinapyasan pa nga ang maliit na badyet para sa mga mahahalagang health programs sa gitna ng pandemya at ilang ospital," Brosas said.
The lawmaker also pointed out that the DOH's national immunization program and disease control programs for rabies and tuberculosis will have zero budget for 2021.
Specialty hospitals like the Lung Center of the Philippines, a COVID-19 referral hospital, and the Philippine Children's Medical Center will also suffer budget cuts, she added.
Brosas proposed that the P19.1 billion allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) be realigned to augment the budget for DOH's critical health programs.
"Nakakagalit na ang pondong inilaan ng gobyerno para sa NTF-ELCAC na tagapamandila ng red-tagging at harassment sa mga aktibista ay triple pa sa nakalaang P6.7 billion para sa COVID-19 response ng gobyerno sa susunod na taon," she said.
"We will propose that the 2021 budget of these critical health programs be restored or at least doubled using the P19.1 billion proposed allocation to NTF-ELCAC. Patuloy ang panawagan ng Gabriela Women's Party na buwagin na at huwag ng bigyan ni singko ang NTF-ELCAC dahil wala naman itong pakinabang sa mamamayan at nakikiagaw pa sa pondo ng bayan. Ilaan dapat ang pondo sa direktang serbisyo para sa nga mamamayan," she added.
Brosas on Wednesday confirmed that she has tested positive for COVID-19, which she believes she contracted from exposure at the House last September 2.
She nevertheless said she already feels fine and vowed to continue participating in the ongoing budget deliberations at the House and push for a higher budget for health and other social services. —KBK, GMA News