#BudgetWatch webinar: Funding PH recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in 2021

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The Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that was badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As of December 9, the Philippines is among the top 30 countries with most COVID-19 cases.

Filipinos across all sectors are affected by the pandemic which has halted businesses, caused job losses, and pushed the country into an economic recession.

By October, 3.8 million Filipinos were unemployed. What’s unsettling is that from July to October this year, 2.23 million formerly employed Filipinos dropped out of the labor force.

Women have also outnumbered men who are forced to leave their jobs due to the extraordinary demand for child-rearing during the pandemic

It is undeniable that women and children are among the most affected by this pandemic. Some have even experienced abuse in the home, as they are forced to stay at home with abusive family members. 

According to the data from the Philippine Commission on Women, 804 incidents of gender-based violence and violence against women and children were reported from March 15 to April 30 – the period when Luzon and other parts of the country were on lockdown. 

While some of its neighbors in the Southeast Asian region are steadily recovering from the economic effects of the pandemic, the economy of the Philippines is taking its sweet time in recovering from its slump. Vietnam and China even recorded growth in their Q3 GDP. (READ: Slow recovery: Philippine economy slumps 11.5% in Q3 2020

Analysts point to "misplaced austerity," health budget cuts, and inadequate mass testing as some of the factors for the country's slow recovery from the pandemic. (READ: [ANALYSIS] 5 ways Duterte is derailing PH economy’s recovery

In the proposed 2021 budget prepared by the executive department, a total of P212 billion is allotted for the whole health sector. 

To speed up the country’s recovery from the pandemic, the bicameral conference committee approved a final version of the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget for 2021 that allots P72.5 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, much higher than the P2.5 billion originally proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Funding the country's recovery from the pandemic

Aiming to engage the public in crafting a budget that fully addresses the negative impact of the pandemic on the country, MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Democracy (iLEAD), and WeSolve teamed up to organize a webinar series, #BudgetWatch.

The final episode of the #BudgetWatch webinar, which will air on December 11 at 1 pm, will discuss how the government plans to fund the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Zy-za Suzara, iLEAD’s executive director, will provide the organization’s analysis of the health budget.

Joining her in the roundtable discussion are Dr Rizzy Alejandro, Head of Strategy and External Affairs of AC Health, Men Sta Ana of the Action for Economic Reforms, and Healthy Philippines Alliance's Ralph Emerson Degollacion.

iLEAD’s Luis Abad will moderate the discussion.

Inputs from this webinar will be consolidated into concrete budget items and action plans that iLEAD will submit to concerned legislators before the budget season ends this year. – Rappler.com