Under the P5.268 trillion proposed national budget for 2023 submitted to Congress last week, it was a shock for many to see that the University of the Philippines will receive P2.5 billion less than its current P25.6 billion budget, while the proposed allocation for the Philippine General Hospital is P5.412 billion, or P893 million less than its current budget.
As the country’s premier training hospital and ‘Ospital ng Bayan,’ the PGH deserves an increase in budget instead of a budget cut, especially as the world continues to recover from the health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. A budget cut for the UP system and the PGH becomes a clear indication of the skewed priorities of government.
In response, the workers’ union of the PGH has called on the government to double the hospital’s proposed budget for next year to P10 billion instead of slashing it.
“President Marcos Jr. said our hopes are his hopes. So let me inform the newly elected President that we fervently hope that the government would appropriate PGH a P10 billion budget,” said Karen Faurillo, president of the All UP Workers Union – Manila/PGH in a recent statement.
A P10 billion budget would mean more medical assistance to indigent patients and more funding for the upgrade of hospital facilities and the purchase of more equipment like diagnostic machines, she said.
It could also fund the hiring of an additional 500 nurses with permanent position and the regularization of over 300 contractual and job order employees.
“A P10 billion budget would translate to better health services for patients and ensure our health workers’ benefits and welfare,” Faurillo added.
While the PGH has been at the forefront of the country’s fight against COVID-19 after its designation as one of the referral centers in the National Capital Region at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, its health workers have been complaining about the release of their much-delayed benefits, prompting them to hold protests.
A budget cut that would affect the operation of the PGH makes the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. seem out of touch with the reality on the ground, especially as the Philippines is still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.*