Roxas sought P500M budget realignment for cheaper medicines; but proposed add'l 2008 DOH budget not acted on

Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas revealed last Sunday he sought to realign P500 million from the proposed 2008 national budget to make available cheaper medicines to the public under a law that he authored, but Congress' conference committee did not act on it.

The Ilonggo senator said he wrote Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman, to consider realigning P500 million from the P3-billion Kilos Asenso Fund as additional budget for the Department of Health's Medicine Procurement Program under the Cheaper Medicines Act.

As primary author of that law, Roxas sought to make available to Filipinos cheap medicines that are normally sold here at high prices by local and foreign drug companies.
"Ang sagot natin sana sa mataas na presyo ng gamot dito sa atin ay itong batas na itinulak ko sa Kongreso, at hiniling ko na bigyan ng dagdag na P500 milyon ang budget ng DOH para sa implementasyon nito."
He said the conference committee, however, only approved his recommendation that P50 million be allotted as budget for the reintegration of returning OFWs under the Social Protection and Welfare Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and another P10 million for the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) for the purchase of laboratory equipment for the implementation of the cheaper medicines law.

Roxas said he is releasing this information ahead of an expected showdown Monday on senatorial budget insertions arising from allegations of Senator Panfilo Lacson that Senate President Manuel Villar engineered an insertion in the GAA for a "road to nowhere."

"I requested realignments in the 2008 budget for what I believed are for the public interest and I hope everybody bare their own requests so this won't turn into a game of deception and obfuscation," he said.
He added that his request was also approved for P90 million under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the widening and improvement of the heavily congested Manila-Cavite Road.

He said the P90 million request was made under the representation of Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, who sought the appropriation to address mounting complaints from Cavite's motorists of massive daily traffic congestion to and from Manila especially during the rush hour.

"This is a project to widen the road that is a major route not only for Cavite's beleaguered motorists and commuters, but also for cargo trucks transporting export products from the Cavite Export Processing Zone to Manila for shipment," he said.

Roxas said: "The national budget involves the people's hard-earned money that they entrusted to the government through taxes, so they ought to know whether these are being spent for their benefit or only for the benefit of a few."
He said the Senate Finance Committee, and thereafter the bicameral conference committee, approved his proposed amendment to the 2008 GAA for the allotment of P50 million for the DOLE's OFW social integration program.

"Daan-libong mga kababayan nating OFW ang bumabalik dito sa Pilipinas na walang trabaho o hindi alam kung paano gagamitin ang kinita nila. Kaya kasama ito sa programa na inaprubahan ng Kongreso sa ilalim ng aking panukala. Hindi lang po natin gustong makabalik nang ligtas ang ating mga OFWs kundi siguruhin din na magiging maayos din ang kanilang buhay sa pag-uwi nila," he said.
Under this program, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs of the DOLE will provide counseling, job matching services and skills training and development for returning OFWs, Roxas noted. He also said that DOLE had been pushing for this project for a long time and it was only funded this year.

Roxas said the P10 million for the DOH was allotted for the purchase of laboratory equipment for BFAD in preparation for the full implementation of the Cheaper Medicines Act.

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on September 19, 2008 at 1:43 PM  

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