Lawmaker: 2022 budget ‘non-compliant’ with COVID response

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Senator Nancy Binay has pointed out the proposed ₱5.024-trillion 2022 budgets lack of allocations for contact tracing that can help contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement on Sunday, the senator lambasted what she called a lack of funds earmarked specifically to combat the coronavirus pandemic next year, claiming that both the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) "have no systematic plans or even the slightest effort to kickstart or scale up contact tracing."

"Ang mindset when the budget was made, there would still be COVID next year. Bakit walang nagtanong sa DILG? Bakit walang budget for contact tracing?" she said in the statement.

"We understand the challenges, but there's a mounting necessity to scale up our contact tracing capacities. Napaka-crucial ng contact tracing, especially as infections of new Covid variants keep rising. Yung 2022 budget mismo hindi compliant sa Covid response," Binay added.

[Translation: The mindset, when the budget was made, was there would still be COVID next year. Why did no one ask DILG? Why was there no budget for contact tracing? The contact tracing is very crucial especially as infections of new Covid variants keep rising. The 2022 budget itself is not compliant with COVID response.]

Under the National Expenditure Plan, the DILG may secure ₱248 billion for its operations in 2022.

During the House of Representatives' Committee on Appropriations hearing on the budget last week, DILG chief Eduardo Año said the agency may need an additional budget of ₱6.7 billion to finance the country's contact tracing efforts.