CUTS

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate went after the Duterte administration today for  cutting the budgets  of  about 49 state hospitals in the proposed 2018 budget.

 “It was the President’s directive to “take care of the poor” and Sec. Ubial had said that the DOH will epitomize the president’s tagline of “malasakit.” He had been critical of people lining up outside hospitals, camping at the gates of hospitals even before the day breaks, just to get medical attention. The cutback of  P1.488 billion on public hospital’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) runs against this directive,” the progressive lawmaker said.

 

Particularly, Rep. Zarate noted the biggest cutbacks on the following public hospitals:

 

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine cutback of 144.741M or 56.63%,

Bicol Sanitarium with 24.024M cutback or 57.41%, 

Amai Pakpak Medical Center (in Marawi) with 33.315M cutback or 51.76%, 

Davao regional Hospital with 55.120M cut or 54.64%, and 

Southern Philippines Medical Center with 270.823M cut or 71.90%

 

“Hindi rin uubra ang palusot ng Department of Budget and Management (DBM) na under utilization dahil we have received reports from some hospitals in need of higher hospital budgets. For example, one hospital reports that they are experiencing budget deficit for almost 4 years, their budget is already spent out by October each year. Another one claims a 500 bed capacity but their occupancy rate reaches 200%, hence their budget will never suffice,” said Rep.Zarate.

 

“These hospitals cater to the poorest patients in the regions and provinces. Kung talagang may malasakit ang adminsitrasyon, and the DOH is implementing this call, di na dapat natin hayaang animo namamalimos ang ating public hospitals for adequate budget. Sa halip na kaltasan,  dapat pa nga itaas ang budget, lalo na ang MOOE ng public hospitals,” he added.

 

“Hospitals cutbacks are certainly bad news for the poor who could not afford the rising costs of healthcare in the country, however, these five hospitals with large cutbacks especially caught our attention. Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi, for example, was heavily damaged from the military operations there. How could the hospital be rehabilitated and cater to the needs of the people with their operating expenses cut in half? Certainly, this is not malasakit for the poor,” Rep. Zarate said.

 

“There was another period when hospital MOOE was cut back, that was in 2011, the time of the President Aquino, when the MOOE of public hospitals including the GOCC hospitals were cut by 30.08%.  Kung nais ng administrasyong Duterte na magkaroon ng tunay na malasakit sa mga mahihirap, hindi dapat nitong binabawasan ng binabawasan ang budget ng mga pampublikong ospital. Sa halip, itulak natin ang libreng serbisyong medikal, lalo na sa mahihirap,” Rep. Zarate ended.

during the DOH budget hearing at the Lower House today,  Zarate said, “dapat maibalik ang pondong ito na tinapyas ng DBM.”

Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) on Monday flagged the Department of Health (DOH) for continuing its spotty health infrastructure project next year with a P29-billion allocation and for slashing the budget of public hospitals. 

Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus said the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which is supposedly for the rehabilitation and construction of government health facilities in barangays, “has only resulted to idle health centers and unfulfilled obligations by the private contractors at the expense of the taxpayers.”

“The Duterte administration is pouring P29 billion next year into HFEP, a failed and anomalous health infrastructure project since the Arroyo regime, while public hospitals under DOH are left to bleed with 22.88 percent budget cut and with a combined funding for maintenance and other operating expenses at only P1.4 billion. This is reflective of a distorted prioritization as far as ensuring health services for the women and the people is concerned,” De Jesus said. 

The government has already spent P83.36 billion from 2010 to 2016 for HFEP. For 2018, the DOH is seeking a P5-billion increase in the HFEP funding from P24.19 billion this year. 

Citing the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the DOH’s program, De Jesus said a total of P1.19 billion of the HFEP infrastructure projects were “not completed within the contract timeframe.” In a separate study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), it was shown that there was no additional hospitals created as the constructed structures were merely replacing old existing hospitals. 

“Walang expansion sa bed capacity sa ilalim ng HFEP dahil wala namang karagdagang health facility na nililikha. Worse, those newly created health facilities lack equipment and personnel and are facing several operational and permit issues. Dapat nang wakasan ang palpak at maanomalyang programang ito ng DOH,” De Jesus said. 

“Funds for HFEP should be used instead to augment the MOOE budget of government hospitals and for the creation of additional plantilla positions for our health workers to ease the load of current staff in public hospitals and avert the rising tide of contractualization in the health sector,” she ended

Bayan Muna circulated a list of the hospitals that suffered budget cuts based on their study of the NEP.

The DBM representative told the panel it is because the DOH has not been able to utilize its funds fully last year. Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial  Ubial then said, “we have instructed our hopsitals to maixmzie their spending capacity because when we spend its translated to servcies. may marching order na po ang hospitals we’re telling them…to spend the resources available to them to utilize the budget and not just quantify services.”

Zarate found the  reason unacceptable. “Hindi dahilan yung 2016 utilization rate is low…

that is the point mr chair we have to address this.”

Earlier in the hearing, Ubial was grilled by perennial critic, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque over the alleged diversion of some 3.1B in immunization funds, which Ubial said was the recommendation of the national immunization committee. “the situation of vacine preventable diseases changes form time to time.”

DOH is seeking a budget of over 164B next year.