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Philippines needs P3B to counter COVID-19 spread, says DOH

The Department of Health on Tuesday asked for a P3-billion supplemental budget from the House of Representatives to counter the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in the country.

In a hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said P2.35 billion of the amount would be used to procure personal protective equipment—headgear, goggles, N95 masks, gloves, overall gowns, aprons, and shoe covers.

"Talagang protected when you will be exposed," Duque said, adding that a set cost P1,500.

Duque said the DOH took into account 5,000 healthcare workers working for 90 days, with three sets of protection a day.

"This should be sufficient to cover the 5,000 healthcare workers who will be expected," Duque said, as he added the equipment will be expected every 15 days.

Aside from this, the DOH also said an additional P933 million is needed for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and salaries of the Bureau of Quarantine personnel.

The DOH has also requested for P139 million for the procurement of 40,000 testing kits.

However, the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) said only P1.65 billion was available to be disbursed at the moment.

"At present, we don't have the P2.4 billion in excess available. We have P1.65 billion in excess income," Deputy Treasurer Sharon Almanza said in the congressional hearing.

She was referring to House Bill 6166 which proposes to give additional funding of P2.4 billion to the DOH to combat the spread of the COVID-19.

"We've been coordinating with the DOF to expedite the remittance of various dividends," explained Almanza.

The House Bill was approved by the appropriations committee on Tuesday, but was revised to indicate an amount of only P1.65 billion, and stated that the availability of appropriations would be until they were fully spent.

"Okay naman 'yun, karagdagan naman 'yun dahil mayroon namang P2 billion na commitment ang PAGCOR, so so far that's going to satisfy our requirement for the personal protective equipment," Duque told reporters on the sidelines of the hearing.

For its part, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the DOH can tap other sources of funding like the contingency fund under the GAA 2020, and the DOH's quick response fund (QRF). —NB, GMA News