SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated his commitment to making sure government funds are used properly to provide better access to quality healthcare for all Filipinos, especially indigents.
Go is the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.
The Department of Health (DOH) defended its proposed 2020 budget during a public committee hearing presided by Go, chair of the subcommittee of the Senate committee on finance.
The executive department proposed a 2020 budget of P160.15 billion, 5% less than its budget for the current year.
“Pera po ng taumbayan ito. Siguraduhin natin na magastos ito nang wasto at ni piso ay hindi masasayang,” he said.
During the deliberations, Go sought clarifications from the DOH on its medicine procurement process after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III revealed that some of their medicine stocks, such as metformin, will expire before the year ends.
“Sinong nagde-determine ng kung ano ang bibilhing medisina, ano ang quantity? Napapansin ko na hinahayaan lang natin ma-expire ang mga gamot sa mga warehouses,” Go said.
“Meron ba tayong overprocurement or underdisbursement? Sino ang nagde-determine? Huwag po natin hayaan na masasayang, up to the last centavo, ang pera ng gobyerno,” the senator added.
Go further expressed his concern during the hearing, stating that while many Filipinos in need of assistance queue up outside the Senate building every day, undistributed medicines languish in DOH warehouses.
“Kita niyo naman diyan ang haba ng pila. Walang pambili ng medisina, puro reseta. Hawak nila reseta walang pambili ng gamot. Tayo naman dito merong gamot pero walang pagbibigyan. Minsan aabutan ng expiry date. Tingin ko may problema sa sistema na dapat ayusin,” Go said.
Meanwhile, the senator also urged DOH to maximize the use of drug rehabilitation centers after it was found during the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) own budget hearing that these centers remain to be underutilized.
“How can we improve our information campaign so that people will know that we have drug rehab centers? How can we convince them to utilize them for their benefit? Sayang kasi. Hindi nagagamit ang ating mga pasilidad. Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon kung sino ang gusto magbagong buhay,” Go said.
Despite scrutinizing how the budget is being utilized, Go said that he supports the DOH and trusts its officials to spend its budget judiciously and prudently. He added that he will continue to fight for the Filipinos’ right to healthcare access.