MANILA, Philippines – Amid the ongoing word war between lawmakers and reproductive health (RH) advocates on the removal of a P1-billion ($20.90 million) allocation for contraceptives, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) clarified that there are enough funds in the 2016 budget for the implementation of the RH law.
"There is enough funding to satisfy the 2016 budgetary requirements of the Reproductive Health Law. At the very least, the Department of Health can draw P900 million from a number of fund sources to procure Family Planning Commodities in 2016," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement on Friday, January 15.
The sources of the fund include:
Abad explained that the DOH can supplement funding for family planning commodities from within the line item of the FHRP in the 2016 budget. This explains the first P300 million.
As for the other P300 million, DOH "has historically managed to generate savings amounting to 16%-17% of their budget every year," Abad said.
This amount is lower than the P8.8-billion ($183.96 million) savings earlier projected by Senator Loren Legarda which she said is "more than enough to cover the P1-billion decrease."
But the total of P937.5 million ($19.6 million) cited by DBM is still lower than the P1-billion allocation supposedly meant to purchase family planning commodities for the RH needs of millions of Filipinos, especially women.
Legarda's fellow lady senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago also criticized Congress for allowing the "illegal" and "immoral" budget cut. (READ: Pia Cayetano: Difficult to trust Legarda again after RH budget cut)
But Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, has repeatedly defended the removal of the P1 billion, along with another member of the bicameral conference committee on the 2016 budget, Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.
In defending the cut, Sotto, a staunch RH critic, cited the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on the distribution and sale of implants.
The TRO also temporarily prohibits the health department from granting any pending application for RH commodities. – Rappler.com
US$1 = P47.84
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.