House allots P20B for COVID-19 vaccines

House allots P20B for COVID-19 vaccines
Health workers and other members of vaccine proriority groups receive their second shot of Sinovac's COVID-19 jab at Marikina Elementary School on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has introduced tweaks to the proposed P5.02-trillion budget for 2022, including a P20-billion funding for COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.

Funding for vaccines was uncertain under the original spending plan prepared by the executive department as P45 billion was lodged for booster shots in unprogrammed funds, which can only be tapped if there is a surplus in government revenues or if there are proceeds from foreign loans.

The House also realigned P5 billion for medical assistance to indigent patients and another P4.5 billion for healthcare workers’ special risk allowance.

It also infused the Department of Labor and Employment with an additional P10 billion funding for its emergency employment program, while it gave the Department of Social Welfare and Development P10 billion for assistance to individuals in crisis situations and another P1 billion for its sustainable livelihood program.

The chamber also handed the Department of Transportation P6 billion for its service contracting program that will benefit public transport drivers who were among the worst hit by the pandemic and provide free rides to the public.

It also realigned P3 billion for the national broadband project and P5.5 billion for the acquisition of five units of C-130 J.

House appropriations committee chair Eric Yap (ACT-CIS party-list) has yet to answer queries as to where lawmakers sourced these realignments from.

“We have appropriated additional budget to the following agencies to further enable them to swiftly, efficiently, and effectively address the needs of the Filipino people,” he said in a statement. — Xave Gregorio

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