LOCAL think tank Action for Economic Reforms (AER) said the government has the fiscal space to create supplemental budgets to address agriculture and health emergencies this year.
In a statement, AER Coordinator Filomeno Sta. Ana III said the President’s veto of P95 billion of supposed pork barrel funds in the 2019 General Appropriations Act gave the government a larger fiscal space.
Sta. Ana said there is also a Joint Senate and House Resolution calling for direct cash transfers for rice farmers as revenues from rice import tariffs are projected to go up to P15 billion.
“We appreciate the swift action on the budget and some of
adjustments Congress has done for the 2020 budget allocation to address the needs of farmers and hog raisers. But those funds will only be available next year,” Sta. Ana said. “Our farmers, hog raisers and the people affected by the outbreak of preventable diseases need the support now, not next year.”
The AER said industrial policy and the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill mandates the Executive branch to put together a supplemental budget to address agriculture and health emergencies.
This, AER said, can be done by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and both houses of Congress.
The Philippines, in recent months, has been hit by various diseases starting with the dreaded African swine fever (ASF) which first infected hogs in Rizal.
The Department of Health (DOH) also recently monitored the reemergence of poliomyelitis and diphtheria while seeing a surge in measles and dengue cases.
“Government has to swiftly put together the numbers and the mode of implementation.
The Department of Agriculture, Social Welfare and Development, as well as the Department of Health should be up to the task,” Sta. Ana said.
On Thursday, meanwhile, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that a 10-year-old girl from Manila died of diphtheria.
Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said the girl tested positive for the disease based on findings of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
On September 17, the girl showed symptoms of fever, sore throat, mouth sore, and difficulty of breathing. Three days later she was admitted to Santa Ana Hospital but died.
Citing records from Kahilom Health Center, DOH discovered that the girl had an incomplete vaccination history.
With this case, the DOH urged parents to ensure that their children receive the complete dose of all recommended vaccines in their first year of life.
“We must equally protect our infants and young children from other vaccine-preventable diseases, namely, diphtheria, pertussis [or whooping cough], and tetanus through immunization,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said.
Cases of diphtheria and other infectious diseases are being monitored by the Epidem-iology Bureau regularly. From January 2019 to September 2019, there have been 167 cases and 40 deaths compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths cases in the same period in 2018. The reasons for the trend are being investigated.
Aside from heightened immunization, the anti-toxin for diphtheria is available in the country, through the assistance of the World Health Organization.
The DOH reminded the public that antibiotics for diphtheria, namely penicillin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, and azithromycin, are locally and commercially available.
With Claudeth M. Ciriaco