Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday called on the government to put up health centers in all barangays nationwide as soon as possible, saying there is no reason to delay it anymore as local government units are to receive additional funding under a Supreme Court ruling next year.
In a media interview after a donation event for hundreds of barangay healthcare workers in Guinobatan, Albay on November 6, 2021, Cayetano noted that 45 percent or 18,000 of all barangays nationwide have no health centers.
“Madaling gawin y’ung health center, medyo mas matagal orderin y’ung gamit, pero y’ung doktor matagal gumraduate. So if we don’t start now, kailan pa tayo magkakaroon ng health center sa bawat lugar sa Pilipinas?” he said.
(The health center itself is easy to build, it takes a bit longer to order the materials, but the doctor takes a long time to graduate. So if we don’t start now, how long would it take us to have health centers in all areas in the Philippines?)
Under the Mandanas-Garcia ruling, the Supreme Court decided to increase the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of local government units (LGU) by 27.61 percent or P300 billion next year.
The ruling has clarified that customs duties and several other taxes should be included in the just share of LGUs in the collection of national taxes.
Cayetano said aside from the building of health centers, the additional fund must also be used to provide aid to barangay frontliners, including medical workers.
“Huwag sanang mapunta lang sa mayayamang city (I hope it would not be given to rich cities only),” he said.
Cayetano said he will recommend these programs in his future meetings with some presidential hopefuls.
Earlier that day, Cayetano discredited claims that there is no available source of funds for the proposed P10,000 in cash aid per Filipino family.
“Sa atin pong mga Senador, alam niyo po P500 billion ang idadagdag sa [national] budget natin next year. Yung nagsasabing walang pera, hindi totoo y’un, may pera, gusto lang gamitin sa iba,” he said.
(To our Senators, you know that P500 billion will be added to our national budget next year. So to those who say there is no money, that is not true. There is money. They just want to reserve it for other purposes.)
He also reiterated his commitment to pushing for the direct stimulus.
“Kung bibigyan ang bawat pamilya ng P10,000, iikot talaga ang pera. It’s a good idea, it’s being done by modern countries like the US… I hope may Presidentiable na pag-aaralan ito,” he added.
(If every family will be given P10,000, money would circulate in our economy. It’s a good idea, it’s being done by modern countries like the US… I hope that there would be a Presidentiable who would study this.)
Cayetano also lamented the lack of fund allocation for relief assistance in the 2022 national budget.
“Kaya n’ung nagkaroon ng lockdown, naghanap pa tuloy tayo. So bakit hindi natin ayusin ang budget with flexibility, dinagdagan mo na rin naman ng P500 billion?” he said.
(That’s why when the lockdown happened, we still had to search for funds. Why can’t we fix our budget to make it flexible since we already added P500 billion?)
Cayetano and his allies in the Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso filed the 10K Ayuda Bill on February 1, 2021 with the aim of providing P10,000 to every Filipino family in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the bill was integrated into the committee version of Bayanihan 3, its proposed amount for cash aid was left out.