Instead of cutting the health budget allocation for the 2019, the government should have had enhanced further the budget for health, a group representing thousands of health workers said on Wednesday.
“Not only the budget cut will endanger the employment of 15,000 health workers to the barrios, this is also an outright denial of the basic rights of the poorest in the far-flung rural areas who badly need the government’s health programs,” the Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW) “said.
AFW is a national union of private hospitals in Luzon. It has 13 affiliated unions with 6,000 members concentrated in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Luzon, including top-rated hospitals such St. Luke’s and Makati Medical Center.
Under the 2019 budget, the Duterte administration slashed P36.2 billion from P107.3 billion this year to a mere P71 billion for 2019, specifically affecting the budget for health human resources deployment (HHRD), which was decreased from P9.59 billion this year to a measly P1.17 billion for 2019.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, a representative from the Department of Budget and Management explained that the budget was just transferred to Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) pending a review by the budget department and the Commission on Civil Service.
During the said hearing, Senator Franklin Drilon was correct in pointing out that the fund transferred to the MPBF might not be released without Malacanang approval.
“It means lesser opportunities for our health workers especially nurses. The plight of nurses abroad seeking for greener pastures would worsen the “brain drain” of our health professionals. The government should increase the health budget and generate more jobs in the health sector instead of cutting its allocation”, said Lito Calderon, AFW Secretary General.
“We, as health workers, are very much disappointed to say the least, over the slashed to the DOH’s budget,” according to Willy Pulia, AFW national president.
In contrast, both the House and Senate had approved the Office of the President’s proposed 2019 budget amounting to P6.7 billion. Its proposed budget is higher than this year’s budget of around P6.031 billion.
“It is disappointing that the budget of the Office of the President has improved and yet the budget for health were slashed,” Pulia added.