JV opposes UP, PGH budget cuts

JV Ejercito

Senate Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito on Monday vowed to fight the budget cuts proposed for the Philippine General Hospital and University of the Philippines system.

“What suffered the biggest cuts were the UP and the PGH. I think we cannot compromise the education and health sectors,” he said in a press conference at the Senate.

“These are programs that we cannot compromise especially since we are in the middle of the pandemic,” he added.

Under the P5.268-trillion proposed national budget for 2023 submitted by the Department of Budget and Management to the House of Representatives, the PGH will get P5.412 billion, P893 million less than its P6.302 billion budget for this year.

Likewise, the UP System will receive P23.1 billion, or P2.5 billion less than its current P25.6-billion budget.

Ejercito, who is also the vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said he will look into other departments which have unutilized or big savings to fill the gap in the proposed budget of the two institutions.

“We’ll probably advise the Committee on Finance to look into other budgets of other departments,” he said.

“In a state of the pandemic, we have to prioritize healthcare, we also have to prioritize the PGH, those suffering from budget cuts, especially departments that are crucial in these times of the health crisis.”

‘Full implementation of UHC Law’

Ejercito said he will seek to fully implement the Universal Health Care Law, which he authored in 2019.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to return to the Senate is because I really would want to look into the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law,” he said.

“I think we just need to provide proper funding that is needed to realize the benefits with its full implementation,” he added.

The lawmaker said that the programs for the education and health sectors cannot be compromised.

“They can make sacrifices elsewhere but not for these two programs, especially for health this time that we are still dealing with the Covid pandemic,” he said.

He added “Until the end of the pandemic, we need to give them the whole budget that they need because it will help us in our fight against the virus.”

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