03 February 2016
How Much Did Secretary Garin Know in DOH Money Movements?
Health group questions the role of the DOH Secretary on changes in the 2016 DOH Budget
“The amount of money moved in the 2016 health budget is so big that it is impossible to have occurred without the implicit approval of the health secretary.” According to Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Department of Health Secretary Jeannette Garin should explain how this occurred under her watch.
“More than 9.3 billion pesos were actually moved around in the health budget by the Bicameral Conference Committee,” said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, HEAD secretary-general. “The enormity of the amounts and the items involved raise red flags as to the true intent.”
According to HEAD, the changes include the following:
▪ 1 billion pesos removed from ‘Family Health and Responsible Parenting’
▪ 7.8 billion pesos removed from the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) for Barangay Health Stations
▪ 2.9 billion pesos added to the HFEP budget of Rural Health Units
▪ 3.3 billion pesos added to the HFEP budget of Public/Local-Government Unit (LGU) Hospitals
▪ 566 million pesos added to the HFEP of Regional Medical Centers, Sanitaria and other Hospitals
▪ 471 million pesos added to the HFEP of “other health facilities”
▪ 569 million pesos added to “Hospital Services” as 336.4 million pesos for “Operation of special hospitals, medical centers and institutes for disease prevention and control” and 232.8 million pesos for “Operation of regional medical centers, sanitaria and other hospitals”
“The movement of money under the HFEP allows for more control of the funds by local executives, especially mayors and governors.” Carabeo said. “In the context of an election year, this may play a crucial role.”
“While we usually welcome additional funds for hospital services, this time, we are wary of the 569 million added to ‘Hospital Services’ since Secretary Garin herself has cast doubts on how the DOH’s Medical Assistance Program can be used for political purposes.”
Last year, Secretary Garin was caught on tape telling members of the House of Representatives that even if their pork barrel funds are not so obvious in the budget, they can still play a role on how the money will be used (and for whom) through the MAP.
Thus, Secretary Garin cannot simply wash her hands on this issue.
“The onus is on Secretary Garin to prove that the money will not be used to favor the incumbents under the Aquino administration. Otherwise, the DOH budget will be further mangled in the coming elections.” ###