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Recto: Health sector needs bigger share of budget under Bayanihan 2

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday said the health sector should get more budget allocation under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

"There are too many things in the Bayahinan 2 bill na palagay ko nagiging chopsuey masyado. We're trying to achieve too much," Recto said in an interview on  ANC.

"To me, the most important, again, is that let us give as much resources as we can to the health (sector), to the fight in pandemic. Doon tayo mag-umpisa," he added.

Recto said if the health sector needs as much as P50 billion to P100 billion, it should be given to them by lawmakers.

"You won't be able to open the economy, you won't provide any confidence if we cannot defeat the virus even before a vaccine comes along," he said.

Under the Senate's approved version of Bayanihan 2, only P10 billion is earmarked for efforts to ramp up COVID-19 testing and enhancement of health care services.

P50 billion were allocated for infusion of capital to government financial institutions, while others are intended for subsidies and other forms of relief for bogged down industries.

Nonetheless, Recto underscored that he is not against the allocation for funds for sectors other than health.

"Don't get me wrong. I support all that. But we're trying to accomplish too much with too little. The most important is our response to the health crisis," he said.

Increasing the workforce in the health sector with proper salaries and protection, and improving the testing, tracing, and treatment capacities were among the goals to focus on, Recto said.

The Senate's version of Bayanihan 2 comes with a P140 billion budget while the House approved a version with a P162 billion funding requirement.

The bicameral conference committee's virtual meeting on the disagreeing provisions of Bayanihan 2 is ongoing as of posting time.

Already approved by the bicam last Friday were the P15,000 sickness benefit for health workers with COVID-19, and cash assistance for teaching and non-teaching personnel who did not receive aid under the first Bayanihan law.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri previously said he thinks P500 billion is needed for Bayanihan 2 and that he would haggle for such an amount during the bicam, if possible. — Dona Magsino/RSJ, GMA News