Monday, January 18, 2016

Garin assures P1-B budget cut for RH will not derail program

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 17 (PNA) -- Health Secretary Janette Garin has assured that the government's Reproductive Health (RH) Program will not be derailed despite the P1-billion cut Congress made in the Department of Health's (DOH) budget for this year.

The top health official, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad and Department of Social Welfare Development Secretary Corazon Soliman held on Friday the People’s Dialogue on Empowerment and Good Governance at the Oriental Hotel and Albay Astrodome where they met with local government and barangay officials.

Garin said the DOH was able to pool out around P490 million from the budget of other health programs for implementation this year.

“Despite the challenges of budgetary cut on the procurement of family planning (FP) commodities, we were assured by President Aquino and the DBM that the program under the RH will not be derailed,” she said.

The Health secretary discounted the impact of the congressional budget cut in the implementation of the RH program.

She pointed out that from the P1.086 billion it has proposed for RH program, Congress has drastically slashed it by P1 billion and left the agency with only P86 million fund for the RH.

Garin said the P86 million fund left for FP program would be adequate to procure remaining FP commodities like contraceptives, IUDs, condoms and other goods.

She added that the department was also able to source out and realign P332 million from the 2015 budget for the purchase of medical apparatus for various villages across the country and another P52.4 million intended for training programs.

She, however, said that “what worries us is that we need to be assured that no fund cut be made in the 2017 budget because this would be felt in next year's implementation of health program.”

When asked to clarify issues thrown by anti-administration critics saying that the government was not able to build a single public hospital during the term of President Aquino, Garin quickly answered that procedure dictates that it needs a law enacted by Congress for the construction of new public hospitals.

The President and the DOH would likely propose but it should pass Congress before it would be implemented, she stressed.

Meanwhile, Secretary Soliman said on Friday’s press conference that millions of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries are strongly lobbying Congress to pass a law institutionalizing the program.

She admitted that at present, the 4Ps is only a policy program that is dependent on the President whether he wants it continued or changed to another program.

She said President Aquino, at an ADB Conference, was correct in saying that the future of the 4Ps or Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) will greatly depend on his successor's appreciation of the program.

"Other claims that they do not believe in the program, some say it is not effective and should be changed. Others may use the program as a medium to gain political patronage,” she said.

According to Soliman, for the 4Ps or CCT to be sustained, it needs a law to institutionalize the program.

She said the proposed CCT law is authored by Representatives Leni Robredo and Susan Yap in the House and due for submission to the bicameral conference committee.

The Senate counterpart bill is authored by Senator Ralph Recto and still pending at the Poverty Alleviation Committee chaired by Senator Nancy Binay. (PNA) SCS/FGS/MSA/CBD/SSC