MANILA, Philippines— Some lawmakers believe that the proposed national budget for 2022 does not fit with the country’s continuous fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Senator Nancy Binay lamented that the country is a step behind when it comes to addressing the effects and risks of COVID-19.
“Hindi natin nauunahan ang virus. Lagi tayong nasa catch-up. Kaya para sa akin for next year unahan na natin, pondohan na natin (We can’t seem to get ahead of the virus. We are always catching up. So, for me, for next year let us catch up to it. Let’s allot a budget for it),” she said.
Binay finds next year’s budget lacking with regards to providing aid, and raised concern on the placement of P45 billion fund for COVID-19 booster shots under unprogrammed funds. She also noted the lack of budget for contract tracing.
“Ang 2022 budget is not ready for a war with COVID-19 ang daming kulang. Can you imagine, walang budget for contact tracing? And then noong tinanong ko sa Department of Budget and Management (DBM) bakit walang budget, ang sagot sa akin, kasi hindi raw hiningi ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), (The 2022 budget is not ready for a war with COVID-19, there is a lot lacking. Can you imagine, there is no budget for contract tracing? And when I asked the DBM why there is no budget, they said, ” It’s because DILG did not ask for it”), Binay said.
Chairman of the Committee on Finance Senator Sonny Angara noted that many of the requirements of the various government agencies and offices are not contained in the copy of the national budget submitted to Congress, particularly those related to the COVID-19 response.
“Agencies should be allowed to submit revisions to their proposed budgets to reflect new developments brought about by the pandemic. The spread of COVID has been rapid and our budget must be able to keep up with it,” the senator said.
Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin also noted that there is no budget for COVID-19 testing.
“The current proposed NEP (national expenditure program) while there are provisions there for some response for the pandemic, you also have a lot of items under the DOH that can actually be realigned for the procurement of vaccines,” she said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)