Solon scores cuts, lump sum in DOH 2018 budget

15 August 2017
Vital programs of the Department of Health in 2018 will suffer fund cuts of up to 99.55%, in the face of the continuing practice of lump sum budgeting, said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio at the hearing for the DOH budget on Monday.
Tinio noted that aside from the reduction of 28.45% in the maintenance and other operating expenses for the 66 regional and special hospitals nationwide, the proposed budget contains drastic cuts in the MOOE of several vital programs.  These include Epidemiology and disease surveillance (from P14.2 billion in 2017 to P63.7 million in 2018, down by 99.55%); Environmental and occupational health (from P74.9 million to P3.7 million, 95.01%); Non-communicable diseases prevention and control (from P2.2 billion to P381.7 million, 82.81%); Elimination of diseases as public health threat such as malaria, schistosomiasis, leprosy and filiariasis (from P894.7 million to P372.5 million, 58.37%); and Prevention and control of other infectious diseases including HIV-AIDS, dengue, food, and water-borne diseases (from P1.97 billion to P1.69 billion, 13.9%).
Health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said that this is a result of an instruction of the Department of Budget and Management to centralize funds for the “soft component” of these programs (such as training and seminars) into the “Public Health Management Program.”
“This centralization of funds previously broken down in specific programs into a single lump sum is a reversal of efforts towards itemized budgeting since the pork barrel system became an issue in the past administration,” said Tinio.  “This is also a complete turnaround of the stand of DBM Secretary Ben Diokno—He was a vocal critic against lump sums in the previous administrations but now that he is in the helm of the DBM, he resorts to the same practice.”
“We in Congress and the public in general are not shown the specifics of this lump sum so we also can’t see later on if these funds are spent for whatever they are intended.  This lack of transparency is exactly why we are against lump sum budgeting,” said the solon, noting that lump sums are more vulnerable to being declared as savings and then realigned.
Tinio demanded for the itemization of the Public Health Management Program as well as increases in the programs whose funds were slashed.  “We cannot agree to these cuts considering that the need for these programs is greater now.  A bird flu outbreak has just been confirmed in Pampanga, and there are reports of substantial increases in malaria morbidity and mortality, mortality from non-communicable diseases, and newly-diagnosed HIV cases,” he said, citing government sources including the Philippine Development Plan.
Meanwhile, Tinio noted that the DOH’s low target for “Access to establishments/health products compliant to regulatory policies” (70%) will have serious impact on consumer protection and the health and safety of Filipinos using food and health products including medicines found in the market.
Finally, he scored government in giving the Food and Drug Administration zero MOOE and leaving it to run its operations on income such as licensing, registration, and other related regulatory fees.  “We cannot allow the FDA, which is tasked to monitor the flow of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and household hazardous waste in the country, to remain dependent on companies they are supposed to regulate.  This represents a conflict of interest on the part of the FDA to the detriment of the public.”  ###

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on the signing into law of the free higher education bill by Pres. Duterte:

We hail the signing into law by President Duterte of the Universal Access to Quality Education Act. This is a historic victory in our fight for the people’s right to education.

We commend and thank President Duterte for siding with the people on this issue and repudiating the advice of his elitist economic manager, who made it clear that they wanted a presidential veto. This is concrete proof that change can only come by rejecting the neoliberal dogma of DBM Sec. Diokno and his ilk in favor of policies that prioritize people’s rights above over the free market.

Malacañang and Congress must now work together to ensure that the free tertiary education law is sufficiently funded. Since the House deliberation on the 2018 national budget is still in its preliminary stage, we call on the Executive, through the DBM, to submit a revised budget that provides for the initial implementation of the new law.

We urge the people to remain vigilant and continue to mobilize to ensure that the gains made possible through this law will be realized and preserved. Surely, the neoliberal spoilers in the Cabinet will take every opportunity to roll back what we have gained today. Tuloy ang laban para sa libre, makabayan, siyentipiko, at pangmasang edukasyon!

ACT Teachers Party-List Antonio Tinio and France Castro on the President’s Threats to Bomb lumad schools

The President in his post-SONA press conference said, “yung mga eskwelahan lang ng mga Lumad, they are operating without the Department of Education’s permit kasi sa eskwelahan nila they are teaching subversion, communism, lahat na. So umalis kayo dyan, bobombahan ko yan. Isali ko yang mga istruktura ninyo. I will use the Armed Forces, the Philippine Air Force.”
This statement amounts to an order to continue the military’s branding of innocents and the institutions nurturing them as rebels.  It is an order for the AFP to target civilians as rebels, and to intensify the militarization of their communities, the threats, intimidation, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and charging of trumped-up cases against students, teachers and tribal leaders, and the encampment and destruction by the military of schools.  It is more ominous since it comes from the commander-in-chief of the AFP and Lumad communities are now under fire with martial law.
We condemn this as a clear red-tagging on a large scale and endorsement of violence and murder against indigenous peoples. The President accused Lumad schools of training children to be rebels, when some of them have long been operating with DepEd recognition.  The applications of many are being denied as part of the systematic attack against indigenous peoples which the President is now openly advocating.
Schools of indigenous peoples and community learning centers such as those for the Lumad in Mindanao are established and maintained by people’s organizations and members of the local communities themselves due to the absence of public schools offering free education in their areas.  They are also part of indigenous peoples’ assertion of their right to self-determination.  President Duterte should encourage and protect them instead of targeting them as “enemies of the state.”
We demand that the President retract his statement.  We demand justice for all victims of militarization of communities, including the thousands of bakwits due to martial law.  We demand that he order the military to pull out of civilian communities and end all forms of attacks against Lumad schools and people’s organizations.  We demand an immediate end to martial law.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao to 2022:

It’s an appalling prospect but not unexpected, especially since the recent Supreme Court ruling has enabled the virtually unfettered exercise of the President’s martial law power.

It’s becoming more evident that the Marawi crisis was merely the pretext, but the Duterte regime’s plan all along is to place all of Mindanao under permanent martial rule. Pres. Duterte and his allies are keen to implement big infrastructure and agribusiness investments Mindanao, funded mainly by China, that will face opposition from poor farmers, lumad, and Moro who will inevitably face displacement and exclusion. His administration is turning towards more repressive tools, such as martial law, in the hope of suppressing the resistance of the poor and marginalized so that these big ticket projects will push through.

However, the Duterte administration seems to be ignoring the lesson of history, that martial law will not bring peace but only further violence to the people of Mindanao.###