IF THE controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is meant to fund urgent, high-impact projects, why spend for such things as stem cell research instead of hospital beds?
The question was raised by Senator Nancy Binay during the Senate finance committee hearing on the DAP on Friday.
Binay questioned the priorities of the administration in its funding allocations, even while it claims that DAP was meant to give priority funding to projects that would have high impact on the public.
For example, Binay asked why P70 million was allotted to stem cell research equipment for the Lung Center of the Philippines when so many public hospitals lack basic things such as hospital beds.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona responded by saying that the equipment to be purchased would not be used exclusively for stem cell research.
However Binay said that if the government really meant DAP to respond to priority needs, then more basic health needs should have been the focus of funding.
“Hindi ninyo naisip bumili ng hospital beds instead of stem cell research,” Binay asked Ona. “Priority nga diba, what can help our people? Hindi ko makita ang priority.”
Ona then said that that while government recognizes these basic health needs, it also needs to look at the bigger picture.
“Tinitignan natin ang kakulangan in terms of preventive, promotive, curative, at rehabilitation,” Ona told the committee.
Ona added that the Health Department has already purchased ten thousand new hospital beds for public hospitals. However, when pressed by Binay how many public hospital beds would still be needed, Ona said another five to ten thousand.
“Why not put the P70 million to those instead of stem cell, why so special ang stem cell? Wala na nga sa GAA (General Appropriations Act), nakakuha pa ng pondo.”