INDIGENT cancer patients will have a better chance of getting treatment next year as lawmakers have approved a P620-million cancer fund under the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget for 2021, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, a vice chairman of the House appropriations committee, said yesterday.
He said medicines and treatment for cancer will be within reach for poor cancer patients next year because of the Department of Health’s new cancer assistance fund which was approved by lawmakers in the bicameral level last week.
Vargas, whose mother succumbed to cancer in 2014, is the principal author of the National Integrated Cancer Control (NICC) at the House. RA 11215 establishes an NICC program that will serve as the framework for all of the government’s cancer-related activities, with the goal of decreasing overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer.
President Duterte earlier assured the public that the NICC law will be funded next year. The law, which was signed in 2019, ran the risk of being unfunded after the Department of Budget and Management disapproved the DOH’s proposal to allocate P540 million for the cancer assistance fund.
“This is only the first step. If we are to succeed in making cancer treatment more affordable, we will have to ensure the NICC law’s implementation is funded yearly until we create a fully-working system,” said Vargas.
Meanwhile, Deputy speaker Bernadette Herrera of the Bagong Henerasyon party-list group said spending on social services got a significant boost in the final version of the P4.5-trillion national budget.
Herrera said both houses agreed to increase the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) by P3.669 billion, bringing its total budget to P176.66 billion under the 2021 General Appropriations Bill.
She said Office of the DSWD Secretary got a net increase of P9.535 billion for protective services for individuals and families in difficult circumstances.
She said the bicameral conference committee also increased the DSWD’s budget for general management supervision by P500 million, social pension for indigent senior by P271.154 million, Supplementary Feeding Program by P130 million, Sustainable Livelihood Program by P10 million, services for residential and center-based clients by P78.652 million, and disaster response and rehabilitation program by P40 million.
Herrera said the following agencies under the social services sector also received a budget boost: Council for the Welfare of Children, additional maintenance and other operating expenses of P10 million under its general administration and support; Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council, additional P20 million for financial assistance/subsidy to local government units for the construction or improvement of Bahay Pag-asa; National Anti-Poverty Commission, P10 million for the formulation of the National Poverty Reduction Plan; and National Council on Disability Affairs, P54 billion for facilities for persons with disabilities.