Cebu News

Infra, healthcare are top budget priorities

Lorraine L. Ecarma - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Infrastructure and healthcare will be the Cebu provincial government’s priority items in its budget for 2020.

"Expect that we will really be focusing a major chunk of the budget for infrastructure and upgrading our medical services so, certainly, it will be much higher than the present 2019 budget," Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said.

Infrastructure projects include the concreting of provincial roads and some barangay roads, Level III water systems; and the repair of existing infrastructure in each city and municipality.

"This will include municipal plazas, municipal buildings, barangay halls, barangay health stations, and perhaps even set up covered courts, which have now become a place to go to during times of emergency," Garcia said.

The money from the 2020 budget will supplement the work on the roads, which kicked off with money from the supplemental budget.

Garcia said the province will also upgrade 16 provincial and district hospitals. It wants to upgrade four Level 1 provincial hospitals to Level 2 provincial hospitals, and 25-bed hospitals to 100-bed hospitals. 

Among these hospitals are those in Bantayan and Camotes towns.

Garcia could not give an estimate of next year’s budget just yet but said all departments and offices have already submitted their proposals, which are now up for review.

"I will need the treasurer to tell me what are the available funds… I will need the budget officer so that he can give me the consolidated version," the governor said.

How will a proposal get her nod?

"If it's going to improve in performance, if it's going to improve, ensure that our people will be receiving efficient and effective service, certainly," Garcia said.


Garcia said she wants to put a premium on the planting of corn in the province instead of rice.

"I said, focus on the improvement of corn kay... pila ra man ni atong flat lands (I told them to focus on the improvement of corn because we only have a few flat lands)," she said.

She also added that the Rice Tariffication Law has reduced significantly the farm gate price of rice, stressing that there is always a gap between the actual demand of corn and what the province is able to supply.

"We will be very aggressive in the planting of corn," Garcia said.

The province will also distribute free seedlings of fruit-bearing trees and insure farmers and fisher folk and their livestock and agricultural paraphernalia.



Meanwhile, the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) is expecting a smaller budget next year.

CPDRC Warden Reynaldo Valmoria said the jail may only have P73 million next year, which is relatively smaller than its budget this year of P119 million.

He explained that the lowering of the budget is line with Garcia’s plan to decongest the detention center.

CPDRC currently holds 2,236 inmates despite its capacity of only 1,600. This is even lower than the 2,525 inmates it used to hold in July.

Valmoria said the biggest chunk of the budget will go to food for the inmates, which amounts to P41M.

The lower budget also translates to a lower allocation per meal for each inmate. Inmates are budgeted P60 per meal from what was once P73.46 according to Valmoria.

Upon computation, however, P41M divided by the number of meals an inmate consumes per year only equates to P17.00. This is only P51 per day, contrary to Valmoria’s P60 per meal computation.

Last July 18, Garcia visited the detention center and, upon seeing the facility filled to the brim, she decided to impose a moratorium on acceptance into the jail. The moratorium is still in effect.

Valmoria also updated that since the moratorium was implemented, they have seen a decrease in the number of inmates held per detention cell. From nineteen inmates, the cells now hold 16 to 12.

“Ako nang gihinay-hinay ug practice nga ang tanang selda akong gihimong 12 ug 16 (I have started implementing for each cell to only have 12 or 16),” Valmoria said.

He said some inmates have been assigned to the “Brigada,” a former food storage space that has been converted into detention cells in order for CPDRC to accommodate the inmates. JMO (FREEMAN)

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