By Vanne Terrazola
No government health worker will lose their jobs next year.
This was the Senate’s vow when they moved to increase the funds needed by the Department of Health (DOH) for the workers to remain employed.
The Senate accomplished this by augmenting the department’s funding under the P4.1-trillion proposed 2020 national budget.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto issued the assurance Wednesday after the Senate finance committee adopted his proposal to increase the DOH’s outlay for its Human Resources for Health Development Program (HRHDP).
“With funding secured, no one will be excised from the program,” Recto said in a statement thanking Sen. Sonny Angara, finance committee chairman, for including his proposal.
The Senate leader earlier raised the concern that the P10 billion slashed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from the DOH’s 2019 funds would result in the layoff of at least 10,000 public nurses and other health workers.
During their plenary deliberations Tuesday on the DOH’s P96.36-billion proposed 2020 budget, Recto recalled that the HRHDP suffered the largest reduction in the DOH budget under the DBM proposal.
Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go, who sponsored the DOH budget, said the DOH originally requested a total of P16 billion for the HRHDP to fund the hiring and salaries of 26,389 health workers in 2020.
But the DBM only gave the HRHDP some P2.5 billion, which the DOH said could only cover 11,000 workers.
Go reported the health department’s 2020 outlay was increased to P7 billion. The amount was appropriated to the HRHDP.
The P7-billion additional fund for DOH, as Recto proposed, was taken from the DBM’s Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund, bringing the HRHDP to P9.45 billion.
“No one will lose their jobs,” Go said when asked by Recto on the number of health workers that might be displaced by the initial budget cut.
Go said the DBM also committed to entertain the DOH’s future request for additional budget for health workers.
“The DBM is just exercising prudence,” Go said.
“But we got the assurance; what the DOH can do is assure the continuity of the employment of the nurses…using the P7 billion budget allotted to them, and then ask for additional funding in the MBF if needed for the rest of the year,” he added.
Recto repeated, “So we have the assurance na walang mawawalan ng trabaho (No one will lose their jobs)?”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Go responded.
The Senate has submitted for approval the DOH’s proposed 2020 budget, which is higher than the P88.92 billion proposed by the House of Representatives.
They also gave the assurance they will seek the means to accommodate proposals for the salary increase of government nurses.