THERE are enough funds to meet the budgetary requirements of the Reproductive Health Law in 2016 even if almost P1 billion was slashed from the allocations for the Department of Health, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said on Friday.
“At the very least, the Department of Health can draw P900 million from a number of fund sources to procure Family Planning Commodities in 2016,” Abad said amid criticism that the cut would diminish benefits that were meant to boost women’s reproductive health.
First, Abad said there is a “carryover” amount of P337.5 million from the 2015 budget for the health department’s Family Health and Responsible Parenting Program, as mentioned by Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Second, the DoH can also supplement the needed funding for Family Planning Commodities by realigning P300 million from one of the components of the FHRP, Abad said.
Third, the DoH has historically managed to generate savings amounting to 16-17 percent of their budget every year and the agency can source the last P300 million that would complete the P900 million.
“We, at the DBM, are always working to ensure there is enough budgetary support for our agencies to properly implement our laws, especially one as important as the RH Law,” said Abad.
The P1-billion budget cut for contraceptives in the Department of Health’s budget for 2016 is “improvident” and “tragic,” said former Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, lead author of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.
Lagman said the budget cut impairs the task of the DoH to procure and distribute family planning supplies in accordance with Section 10 of the RPRH Law.
Lagman also described the remaining P157-million budget for contraceptives as “grossly inadequate.”
“These statutory authorizations were rejected, defied, and eroded by the Congress, more particularly the Senate when the P1-billion cut was accorded congressional approval. The Congress has violated the very law it has enacted,” Lagman said.
“I place the onus of culpability for this unforgivable cut on Senator Tito Sotto, as the principal proponent of the gross reduction, and Senator Loren Legarda, as chair of the Senate Bicameral Panel who until now vainly justifies [the budget cut].”
But Legarda said gthe whole budgetary process was done in the most transparent and inclusive manner.”
She said the bicameral conference committee proposed changes which were contained in the bicameral report that the Senate ratified as a body and thus carried in the General Appropriations Act.
“The Department of Health FHRP program has an allocation of P2.2 billion in 2016 and more than P1.2 billion in the last quarter of 2015 to be implemented in 2016. There are also projected savings of P8.8 billion which can be used,” Legarda said.
gThere are sufficient funds for DOH FHRP and the traditional budgetary legislative process was followed,” she added.
She noted that it was not a unilateral act on my part but all the bicam members from both houses of Congress, supported by their respective technical staff.
gWe have worked on the budget to ensure that those who have less budget and less sources of funds will be augmented, such as additional funds for the social pension of indigent senior citizens worth P1.2 billion; state universities and colleges worth P2.7 billion; and first time payment of total administrative disability (TAD) pension for surviving spouses of deceased WWII veterans and partial payment of TAD pension for living post WWII veterans worth P4.773 billion.