MANILA – The House of Representatives’ appropriations committee on Tuesday approved a measure seeking a PHP1.65-billion supplemental budget for the Department of Health (DOH) to address the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The panel, chaired by ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, approved the still-unnumbered bill as the confirmed coronavirus cases in the country more than doubled to 24.
The original bills sought for around PHP2-billion worth of additional appropriations to combat the new public health threat, however, the National Treasury said during the hearing that only PHP1.65 billion is available in excess funds.
The DOH needs a total of PHP3.1 billion to procure personal protective equipment, 40,000 test kits, as well as funding for the maintenance and other operating expenses and salaries for the Bureau of Quarantine.
Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-an said the DOH can source the remaining funds needed, particularly: PHP2 billion from Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), PHP420 million from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and PHP81 million from the DOH’s quick response fund and savings.
Budget Undersecretary Janet Abuel, meanwhile, said the government can also source the money from the PHP13-billion contingency fund and PHP7.5-billion national disaster risk reduction and management fund.
Currently, there are 24 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a proclamation formally declaring a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines after the DOH reported the first known local transmission of Covid-19.
He also ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila to minimize students’ risk of contracting the disease.
DOH has also placed the country under Covid-19 Alert System to Code Red (Sub-Level 1) to prepare for a possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases. (PNA)