MANILA, Philippines – Pasig City will have a budget of P12 billion for 2020 – the first budget passed by the council under new mayor Vico Sotto.
Of the amount, P2.5 billion will go to health care services, representing the biggest increase among items in the budget, surpassing the amount promised by Sotto during the campaign, for which critics and trolls ridiculed him.
In a Facebook post on Friday, November 8, the mayor said health care received the biggest budget increase from 2019, with 21% of the 2020 budget dedicated to health services.
In a separate post on Saturday, November 9, Sotto said the new health care budget would be P2.5 billion, up from P1.8 billion in 2019.
Sotto said the additional health funds will primarily be used in:
"Naalala ko pa nung kampanya, sinasabi ko na kung manalo ako magiging at least P2.4 billion ang pondo natin para sa health. Sabi nila (karamihan trolls pero may mga totoong tao din), imposible 'yung sinasabi kong P2.4 billion, tanga daw ako at 'di ko daw alam ang sinasabi ko. Ngunit ito na po tayo ngayon, may 2020 health care budget na P2,548,659,185. Higit pa sa pinangako natin,” Sotto said in the post on Saturday.
(I recall during the campaign, I was saying that if I’d win, our health funds would be at least P2.4 billion. They said (many were trolls but some were also actual people), the P2.4 billion I was talking about was impossible, that I was stupid and didn’t know what I was saying. But here we are now, with a 2020 health care budget of P2,548,659,185. Even more than what we promised.)
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Before passing the 2020 budget, the city government under Sotto was able to add P470.5 million pesos to the city’s health budget for 2019.
In October, the city government spent P36 million to augment the subsidy of some 11,000 tricycle drivers’ PhilHealth memberships.
In August, Sotto signed a partnership with the Rizal Medical Center, one of Pasig’s two public hospitals, to train doctors and other medical professionals to provide primary health care at barangay health centers. It’s an effort to make immediate medical attention more accessible to residents, especially the poor, and to decongest the city’s two public hospitals.
As of his 100th day in office in October, there was P772.7 million allocated for free medicines and medical supplies for next year. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Vico Sotto's first 100 days as Pasig mayor)
The largest allocation in Pasig City's 2020 budget, according to Sotto, goes to general public services at 36%. Only 11% of this, the mayor said, is allotted for infrastructure, making it the item with the biggest budget cut.
Sotto said most of the budget for infrastructure would be for maintenance and repairs only.
"Kinakailangan linisin pa nang husto ang pamahalaan bago tayo gumastos ng bilyon bilyon para rito (We need to thoroughly cleanse the city government before we can spend billions on this)," he added.
After general public services (36%) and health care (21%), mandatory expenses (14%) and economic services (12%) received the biggest portions of the P12-billion budget.
These are followed by education (10%), social services (4%), and legislative services (3%).
Sotto won the elections back in May, beating then-reelectionist Bobby Eusebio and ending his family's decades-long hold on the city.
During his State of the City Address last October, Sotto promised to reform 5 key areas – health care, housing, education, good governance, and public order and safety – and to relentlessly pursue corrupt Pasig bureaucrats.
"Kaya ito po’ng sasabihin ko: hindi po ito tungkol sa health lamang. Hindi titigil ang fake news, ang intriga, ang kaguluhan ng pulitika. Pero magtrabaho lang tayo nang magtrabaho. Makikita't makikita rin ang mabuting pagbabago,” he said.
(So this is what I have to say: this isn’t just about health. Fake news, intrigues, the chaos of politics won’t stop. But we just work and work. The good changes will and will be evident.) – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.