Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Department of Budget and Management, and Congress to restore the P3.3-billion budget cuts of the UP System, including the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
Based on the proposed P5.268-trillion 2023 national budget, Rodriguez said UP would suffer a funding reduction of P2.5 billion, while PGH would lose P893 million.
“We should be increasing the budgetary allocations of state universities and colleges (SUCs), which are the poor student’s schools of choice, and government hospitals, which are the pauper’s go-to health facilities, instead of reducing their funds,” Rodriguez said.
He said the administration of President Marcos would be sending the wrong message if it insists on cutting funding for UP and PGH.
He added that UP and other SUCs are where indigent students from all over the country prefer to enroll because taxpayers subsidize education in these schools.
On the other hand, Rodriguez pointed out that PGH and other government hospitals are where indigents patients go for their health care needs.
“Unlike private health facilities, these hospitals are allocated medical assistance funds in the national budget, which they use to help poor patients,” he stressed.
He said depriving PGH of P893 million would mean cutting medical assistance funds and hospital requirements for treating people infected with Covid-19.
“PGH is at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. At the height of the health crisis, it was full of Covid-19 patients,” he said.
Rodriguez suggested that the DBM restore the UP and PGH reductions by sending a budget erratum or errata to the House of Representatives.
“They did that in the past. It is they who could easily make the necessary adjustments,” he said.
House Appropriations panel senior vice chairperson Marikina Representative Stella Quimbo meanwhile said Congress will address budget cuts and lack of funds for crucial government programs under the proposed government budget.
Quimbo was responding to concerns raised by sectors, including her colleagues from the Makabayan bloc, over the P2.5 billion budget cut on state-run UP and decreasing the PGH’s budget amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel also argued that the proposed 2023 budget only earmarked P852.8 billion for the education sector which is below the United Nations recommendation of 6 percent of the gross domestic product, GMA News reported.
“Historically, amendments are made by lawmakers on PGH’s budget. It happens almost every year. There is no need to be very concerned at this point kasi magagawan pa ng paraan, kaya tayo may budget process, to find out what PGH programs did not make it to the 2023 proposed budget,” Quimbo said in a press conference.
“The members of the House will find ways given that PGH is a very good service hospital of high quality and you get value for your money. At the same time, it is also a teaching hospital. We will also hear what UP president Danny Concepcion has to say,” she added.
Quimbo further said the P25 billion funding for the P500 hike on the monthly social pension of indigent senior citizens will also be funded under the proposed 2023 budget.
“We need to find a way to fund this since the seniors are expecting to receive it,” she said.