Cebu province earmarked P2.28 billion to fund hospitals in 2022, a significant increase from the P1.9 billion it budgeted for the same purpose this year.
The Cebu provincial board unanimously passed the budget on Monday, November 22.
The 2022 total budget approved was P18.3 billion, 22% more than the P15 billion allocation in 2021 despite the economic downturn wrought by COVID-19.
This time, the lawmakers placed more emphasis on healthcare and the province's COVID-19 response.
The 2021 budget includes bankrolling projects for hospitals and medical facilities, the acquisition of medical equipment, the COVID-19 pandemic response, and sanitation program.
“Considering that the pandemic shook/upset most health care systems and services, the province allocated a substantial focus for both the development of health care facilities and the continued delivery of more health and social services most needed by the Cebuanos with the continued threat of COVID-19,” said Glenn Soco, chairman of the provincial board’s Committee on Budget and Appropriations.
Pouring cash into healthcare may surprise critics of Governor Gwen Garcia.
Garcia has been accused of scrimping on public funds despite the global COVID-19 health crisis.
Gubernatorial aspirant Ace Durano accused Garcia of outsourcing health workers in Cebu province and underspending on its hospitals.
Garcia denied these allegations.
She also sparked controversy when she said that Cebu has "moved on and moved forward" from the pandemic. Her critics said this was an attempt to downplay the scale and severity of the coronavirus.
On Monday, Sanlakas filed an administrative complaint against Garcia for her alleged negligence in the province’s COVID-19 response.
Cebu province was among the first local government units to reopen local tourism in the country despite the raging pandemic, a step which was often described by local leaders as Cebu “moving on” from COVID-19.
Despite this, in her letter to the provincial board, Garcia noted that “significant consideration was given to programs that targeted sectors most affected by the COVID-19 in order to provide for the necessary stimulus for recovery.”
Apart from health, the province's budget also prioritized infrastructure projects with road and bridge construction and street lighting programs getting P2.2B of the development fund, followed by P1.5B for water system development. – Rappler.com