THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assured Congress and the public of augmented funds for containing the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (N-CoV).
According to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, he got assurance from the DBM that funds will be readily available for the government effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
To date, there are three confirmed cases of N-CoV in the country, all of them Chinese nationals from Wuhan. More than 170 patients are under observation.
“Secretary Avisado assured me that when the nCOV funds are used up, he will augment them,” Cayetano said following a luncheon meeting with DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado on Tuesday together with some House leaders.
He said the Department of Health (DOH) should first use all available funds to contain nCOV and to isolate and treat infected persons.
“That is also the advice I gave governors and mayors in areas affected by calamity. Use your funds because we can augment them. The important thing is we provide our affected people with what they need,” Cayetano added.
Representatives Angelina Tan of Quezon, who chairs the House Committee on Health, and Joey Salceda of Albay, who heads the ways and means committee, have filed separate bills seeking an additional P2-billion nCOV budget.
The Speaker also said he would try to work out a “balance” between the need for Cabinet members to attend House hearings and their duty to do their job and attend to their agencies’ concerns.
He made the promise after Health Secretary Francisco Duque lll failed to attend the hearing of the committee on Metro Manila development on nCOV on Wednesday because he had to inspect a proposed isolation center in a military camp in Nueva Ecija for persons infected by the virus.
Some congressmen expressed dismay over the DOH chief’s absence.
Cayetano said Duque had to personally see for himself the proposed quarantine area because many local government units had refused to accommodate nCOV patients.
Being a congressman and having been a Cabinet member as foreign affairs secretary, he said he understood the sentiments of his House colleagues and Duque’s situation.