House panel OKs P1.6-B budget for response vs COVID-19 

By: Neil Arwin Mercado - Inquirer.net | March 10,2020 - 12:09 PM

Coronavirus. FILE IMAGE

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on appropriations on Tuesday approved a P1.6-billion supplemental budget for the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

During the committee’s hearing on bills seeking supplemental budget for COVID-19 response efforts, lawmakers noted the urgency of approving the proposals as more cases of the disease are confirmed in the country.

House committee on health chair Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan earlier filed House Bill No. 6166, which seeks to augment the budget requirements of the Department of Health (DOH) to procure surgical masks for patients under investigation and personal protective equipment for health workers.

The funds, amounting to P2.04 billion, will also be used to repatriate Filipinos overseas, particularly those in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda filed a similar bill seeking P2.06 billion supplementary budget also for the procurement of surgical masks and protective personal equipment.

However, Deputy Treasurer Sharon Almanza said that the Bureau of Treasury does not have the sufficient amount needed.

Currently, the National Treasure only has P1.65 billion in excess income, said Almanza.

Almanza said they are coordinating with the Department of Finance to expedite remittance of dividends.

“Congress will be having a break in a few days and therefore it is important that this bill be finalized today because the remaining day left for us is tomorrow,” Quirino 1st District Rep. Junie Cua said.

“Under that circumstance it seems that the most expedient to do is make do with [this amount] and find out from the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] or maybe from DOH whether there are other sources of funds to augment the requirement of this bill,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night announced that confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country has risen to 24.

Edited by JPV

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TAGS: COVID-19, House panel, OKs, P1.6-B budget, response

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