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Senator Loren Legarda’s Statement on DOH Budget

January 8, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, today said that all information about the 2016 national budget were available to both houses of Congress before it was enacted into law.

“All senators were given a copy of the bicameral conference committee report before they voted to ratify. The first page of the report shows both the increases and the decreases in the budget of all agencies including the Department of Health (DOH),” she explained.

Legarda said that in the process of reconciliation of the differences between the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) and the Senate proposal, the Bicameral Conference Committee had identified agencies that need to be provided additional funds and had also identified the sources to fund the proposed increases.

“The decision to cut the allocation for the DOH’s Family Health and Responsible Parenting (FHRP) was done after assessing its possible impact on the program. We took note that as of June 2015, the DOH status of funds showed that of the P3.27 Billion allocation for FHRP, only P955 Million had been obligated or 29%. For the remaining six months, P2.3 Billion or 71% has yet to be obligated. The unused 2015 budget is still available in 2016 and the agencies may augment deficient items from their savings,” Legarda explained.

Based on historical data, the DOH-Office of the Secretary (OSEC) has savings every year. In 2012, unused obligations or savings of DOH-OSEC was worth P5.46 Billion (13.84% of its total budget); P7.578 Billion (16.03%) in 2013; and P9.2 Billion (16.54%) in 2014.

Legarda added that the FHRP for FY 2016 will still have an allocation of P2.275 Billion of which P1.670 Billion is for the procurement of family planning commodities. She emphasized that the allocation for commodities is lodged within the FHRP and the cut in the latter did not refer to any particular commodity.

“The 2016 budget for DOH and its attached corporations namely, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, and Philippine Institute for Traditional and Alternative Health Care, is actually higher by P30 Million compared to the original proposal under the National Expenditure Program (NEP),” said Legarda.

Under the 2016 NEP, the budget for DOH and attached corporations was P125.950 Billion; but in the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the final budget for DOH and attached corporations is worth P125.980 Billion.

“A cut in the budget does not mean less support for a program. We also see the need to increase funds of other agencies for equally important programs. We all want our laws and programs to be funded, thus, the House and the Senate deliberate on the budget and make the necessary adjustments as we see fit. We reduce the budget of some programs to allow for the improvement of other programs. That is why we have to go through this cycle of budget deliberations every year,” Legarda concluded.