Vice President Leni Robredo has stopped watching the weekly report to the public of President Rodrigo Duterte in the “past several months” as these were no longer centered on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When I listen and read the transcript [of the press conferences], I get the sense that he does not know all the details. I think he lacks focus on details,” she told ANC’s Headstart.
“The last two press conferences were really quite frustrating for us. We are in the middle of a surge [of COVID-19 cases] and all hands on deck are needed but the greater part of the press conference was [about] criticizing senators and the Commission on Audit,” the Vice President added.
Robredo said the government should focus the 2022 budget to its COVID-19 response amid reports of huge cuts in the Department of Health budget totalling more than P53 billion.
The DOH proposed a budget of P73.9 billion but was only allocated P19.6 billion.
“We originally proposed P73.99 billion, P50.41 billion of which will be for the meals, accommodation and transportation and life insurance of frontliners,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
Duque said the reduction explains why no funds were allotted for the allowances and benefits of health care workers in the proposed DOH budget for 2022.
Duque said funds for the benefits of medical frontliners were instead covered by the proposed Bayanihan 3 bill, which is still pending at the Senate.
“The department that implements the COVID-19 response programs suffered a budget cut while other items that are not as urgent at this time are funded fully even as a lot of people are suffering and have lost jobs,” Robredo said.
“These are not ordinary times but I cannot feel that sense of urgency,” she added.