A party-list legislator has questioned the proposed P221 billion budget of the Department of National Defense which got zero allocation for the purchase of medical equipment for its hospitals and for the hospitalization of its personnel and veterans.
In last Wednesday’s budget briefing before the House Committee on Appropriations for the 2022 DND budget, Rep. Jericho Nograles asked why the Department of Budget and Management presented a zero allocation for the hospital expenses of DND personnel, compared to a budget of P1.786 billion last year.
Pointing out that the DBM may have overlooked the situation that resulted in these budget cuts, Nograles requested Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to submit to Congress a revised budget which would include allocations needed by its hospitals and the medical expenses of its personnel.
He said Congress could look for funds to cover the budget gap for the medical needs of the AFP personnel through possible budget realignments.
Nograles also said that he hoped that whatever Congressional budgetary support will not be vetoed or, worse, subjected to “for later release” by the DBM.
Nograles also observed that the VMMC has requested the acquisition of a linear accelerator machine worth P300 Million to replace its decrepit cobalt-60 teletherapy machine and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine worth P90 million. It has also asked P36 million for the construction of endoscopy center with equipage; P29 million for the renovation of the Department of Radiology and Radiotherapy and P35 million for the renovation and upgrade of its pulmonary intensive care unit (PICU).
The DBM also scrapped the VMMC request and instead provided a footnote that it should be covered by profits earned from its golf course which, according to its director Dr. Dominador Chiong, only amounts to a fraction of P2 million a year.
He noted that the members of the Armed Forces, both those in the active and the reserved service and even the Constitutionally protected veterans are among the most vulnerable to the lingering threat of the COVID-19 so it does not make any sense that the DBM gave them zero budget for hospitalization and medical equipment acquisition.
“I could not understand why there is zero budget for Hospitalization Expenses and new equipment for any of the hospitals for soldiers and veterans. Sa daming pera, sana naman huwag kalimutan ang dumedepensa sa atin. They are not bulletproof, they are not covid-proof, and we are bound by the Constitution to help and honor them,” Nograles said.
“Our Armed Forces is called to action more on domestic and pandemic problems yet we are not taking care of our men and women and our veterans,” Nograles said.