Press Release
September 18, 2020

"Microscopic 1% share of health in P1 T infra budget"

Health share of the 2021 P1 trillion infrastructure pie is a measly "1 percent", Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said, "a kind of budget prioritization that turns a blind eye to the health facility shortages the pandemic has laid bare."

"This is pandemic denialism," Recto said, in batting for a larger share for public health in the P1 trillion capital outlay component of next year's proposed P4.506 trillion national budget.

"Parang after World War II, giba ang Maynila, pero ni isang kusing wala kang ilalaang pera para sa reconstruction," Recto said.

Recto said government's Build-Build-Build blueprint should "accommodate changes" the pandemic has made urgent and inevitable.

"If we are willing to spend P1 trillion on BBB, why not also have a BBB for our local hospitals? There is nothing in the budget to increase bed capacity at the local level - district, provincial or regional hospitals," Recto told the government's economic managers during last week's Senate hearing on the 2021 national budget.

Recto said government's proposed capital outlay for 2021 is P1.039 trillion, including P87 billion in standby "unprogrammed appropriations."

The DOH share, according to Recto, is P15.6 billion, or 1.5 percent of the total.

But P5.5 billion of the P15.6 billion "is parked at the Unprogrammed Fund, which means it can only be released if revenue targets are hit and if loans for the projects can be secured. Malamang uutangin pa."

Among the projects in the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) for 2021 are new health facilities (P4.7 billion), P5.5 billion under the Unprogrammed Fund for the construction of primary healthcare facilities, and P900 million for isolation facilities funded by a loan from the ADB.

"Yung budget for new transportation equipment para sa buong DOH ay P25 million lang for next year. Yung new buildings ay P2.2 billion, parang one-fourth of 1 percent lang ng total infra budget," Recto said.

Recto said if government will go on a borrowing spree next year, it would be better if "the health dividend is big."

Because the programmed revenue collection next year of P2.541 trillion will not be enough to finance the P4.506 trillion budget, "government will borrow P3 trillion to fund the deficit and amortize debts."

Of the P3.025 trillion gross borrowing, P762 billion will be used to amortize debt while P1.749 trillion will cover the budget deficit.

"Kaya may overborrowing na P513.3 billion. Parang cash hoard. Sana matilamsikan man lang ang health services dito," Recto said.

"The pandemic is a CT-scan which gave us an image on how bad the internal structure of our public health system is," Recto said.

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