Press Release
September 28, 2023

Initial remarks on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Health and its attached agencies
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senior Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee

Part 1: Opening Statement

Welcome to our hearing today. This is the hearing of the Committee of Finance and I am the Senior Vice Chair of that Committee and our agenda today is the proposed budget under the fiscal year 2024 of the National Expenditure Program of the DOH and its attached agencies.

For 100 years, I used to read all these numbers, and my staff now tells me I don't have to read all the numbers kasi it's on record naman kung ano ang budget niyo.

So let's use the time to hear from you. I know all your budgets naman will have additional requests. So I usually deliver all my rules for the conduct of the hearing, but my colleagues are not here. So for the purpose of the resource persons, I understand that there will be one presentation and Usec. [LIlibeth] David, you'll be the one to present. So I will have to repeat this as every senator comes in because the way I will conduct this hearing is, I will allow you to finish that presentation, and then they can ask their questions.

To ensure that this is a healthy hearing, you are allowed to take mobility breaks as often as you want. If you are not speaking, you can stand up. If you are speaking you can also stand up, pero the mic is lower, so mahirapan kayo, di ba? But if you are not speaking, you don't have to ask for my permission, please stand up, go to the restroom, stand up behind your chair and move around. You are very welcome to do that anytime, even your staff. Of course, kung boss niyo ang nakasalang, baka kayo ang pagalitan. That's not on me anymore kapag bigla kayong nawala.

I think that's it... Keep your answers brief because the senators have a limited time to ask their questions, so if you have a brief answer, then they can ask more. Unless you don't want them to ask you more, then you can use up 7 minutes for all the one question. Pero hihingi rin sila ng extension so keep your answers brief na lang.

Okay. On that note, I will call on Usec. Lilibeth David who will present the budgets of DOH and all the attached agencies. You have the floor, Doktora.

Part 2: Clarification

Dr David, let me just...can you go back to the previous slide? To be clear, NEP to NEP is an increase from 2023 to 2024. Let's be clear, because people are watching this hearing live. The reason it is showing a decrease in the 2024 NEP is because you are comparing it to the 2023 GAA, which already included the initiatives of Congress, right? Always yan. Because you really do get support from the legislative, so to be clear. So overall, NEP to NEP, nag-increase naman. Para kapag nagtanong ang media, yan na po ang sagot.

Part 3: Is DOH currently a 'headless' department?

Excuse me, Dr. David. I'll just recognize the presence of Sen. Tolentino. Since you are the only one here, I will allow you to make an opening statement if you want. Go ahead.


Hindi naman. Hindi naman sila headless, your honor. Actually, all of the senior members of the team approached me a while ago and acknowledged nga that of course, it's a bit of an awkward situation, but as we all know, Usec. Dr. Ma. Rosario Vergeire was the OIC for many years and was very actively exercising her leadership, not just in the past year, but even during the time of Pres. Duterte. And Dr. Usec. David is the most senior Undersecretary. So I am quite confident in the presentation today that they can answer. But I told them to be candid with us if they are asked about a specific policy of the Secretary or incoming secretary that has yet to be confirmed, they should be candid and tell us if they know, they don't know, or if it is an ongoing policy that they can further explain, then they should explain. So just be candid with us. That's just my instruction to them.


My understanding is, and actually I'll show you, ka-text ko ang ating Majority Floor Leader, I am asking for guidance from Malacanang kasi if it's the ad interim appointment that will be given anyway, then malas ko lang na my hearing is 2 days after the CA bypassed him. But I am very happy to conduct a follow-up hearing if there are senators who would want to hear directly from him. On my part kasi, as soon as he was appointed, I have been in communication with him. So ako, wala akong problema to conduct this hearing as scheduled. But that is an offer naman I am making for all of the senators who would want to hear from the Secretary himself. But with respect to the policies of the various attached agencies and the programs, they have a very competent team naman po.

And let me acknowledge our Senate President Pro Tempore, Loren Legarda. If you'd like to make an opening statement, please go ahead.


Since we have three of the very active senators here, let's welcome the third arrival, Sen. JV Ejercito. Dear colleagues, we have actually started with the presentation. If all of you want me to repeat it, gusto niyo ba? But there is also a copy actually, ang pinasadahan pa lang nila naman eh kumbaga sa SDG yung mga 8-point priorities nila. Maybe just go back 2-3 slides to show the budget. And then if you could bear with me, dear colleagues, I would like them to finish the presentation before we ask questions because otherwise, mag-aantay ang lahat para lang makapagtanong ang isa. But if somebody needs to leave, and I don't know if that's you, Sen. Tolentino, of course we will accommodate. Just let us know if it's time... But we don't want to deprive anyone of that opportunity to ask, of course, with the permission of our most senior officer, Sen. Loren. So when the time comes that you feel you have to leave, give me a heads up para maisingit po namin kayo. So maybe just a few slides back, pasadahan ang budget. And dear colleagues, you have a copy of the entire presentation anyway... Sen JV, of course, you may give an opening statement if you want? Okay? Good? Sarap kausap ng mga kasama ko, puro okay okay lang sila.

So, Dr. Lilibeth, please proceed.


Attached: 2024 proposed budget of the DOH and its attached agency

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