A group of healthcare workers have urged the government to cut back on infrastructure spending in the 2022 budget and instead focus more on using its funds for hiring 14,000 permanent health care workers in public hospitals and prioritizing the government's coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response.
According to the Alliance of Health Workers, the proposed P242 billion budget of the Department of Health (DoH) is deceptive and exemplifies the government's "blatant disregard for the health workers' safety, protection and well-being".
It claimed that out of the P242 billion allocated to the DoH, 33.3 percent, or P79.9 billion, will be alloted to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) while the rest will be allocated to the Office of the Secretary, which also includes the budget for the 76 public hospitals under it.
"Ano ba talaga ang plano ng gobyerno? Magtanggal ng mga health workers sa gitna ng pandemya?... Malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw na ang 2022 DOH proposed budget ay hindi nagpapakita ng seryosong pagsisikap ng gobyernong Duterte para masugpo ang pandemyang ito (What is the plan of this government? Eliminate more health workers in the middle of the pandemic? It is clear that the 2022 proposed budget does not see the seriousness of the Duterte government to end this pandemic)," Robert Mendoza, AHW President, said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Mendoza also said that the cuts in the DoH funding to prioritize the government's "Build Build Build" program will lead to a further collapse of the healthcare system that has been overwhelmed due to the Covid pandemic.
The group has also urged Congress to increase the health budget by allotting 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product, or equivalent to P 206.4 billion, to fund direct public health services, abolish PhilHealth, and also regularize more than 16,000 job-order and contract of service employees.