Senator Nancy Binay slammed the removal of the line item for the country’s cancer fund for 2022 by the Department of Health, saying it was a “step back” after Congress “had gone through a lot of hoops to fully empower the national cancer control program”.
“The DOH should have taken our cue when we allocated P620 million last year for cancer. Batas ‘yan, at long-term priority. Instead of moving forward this is a step back that we should correct. When survival matters, you don’t make lifelines invisible,” Binay stressed.
Batas ‘yan, at long-term priority.”
The P620-million cancer fund for 2021 was only included during the bicameral conference for the national budget. It consists of the P500-million Cancer Control Program fund and the P120-million Cancer Assistance fund.
The veteran legislator vowed to rectify the mis-step by filing an amendment during the Senate’s deliberations on the DOH’s proposed budget for 2022.
The Cancer Coalition of the Philippines earlier sounded the alarm over the removal of the cancer fund line item in next year’s budget.
Instead of a line item, the DOH had subsumed the National Integrated Cancer Control Program (including cancer medicines for children) and the Cancer Assistance Fund under the fund for non-communicable diseases.
The proposed fund for NCDs amounts to P1.3 billion.
“This is a direct violation of the provisions under NICCA,” the coalition stated in a position paper.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap na tila hindi permanenteng priority ang suporta para sa mga cancer patients natin.”
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap na tila hindi permanenteng priority ang suporta para sa mga cancer patients natin. Dahil nakabulto lang sa NCD budget, walang linaw kung magkano ba talaga ang nakalaan, at ang pangamba ay baka paglaruan lang ang budget na ito,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
“This is another half-baked idea that the DOH is trying to implement, which again puts in question the priorities of its leadership,” the lady senator added.
Based on the World Health Organization’s Global Cancer Observatory, more than 153,000 new cases of cancer were recorded in the country in 2020. It is the second leading cause of death for Filipinos, with 62,300 deaths tallied last year.
She also questioned the continued failure of the National Integrated Cancer Control Council to come up with the country’s policy response to cancer.
“This issue over the budget stems from the lack of a clear policy direction which the NICC Council has the responsibility of crafting,” Binay concluded.