MANILA – The proposed 2023 budget for the four specialty hospitals was either raised or unchanged, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Tuesday.

The DBM issued the clarification in light of the recent statement of House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto that the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), and the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) are facing "deep and nonsuperficial budget cuts" for next year.

In a press statement, the DBM said the subsidies given by the government to the LCP, PHC, NKTI, and PCMC are based on their fiscal year 2021 Quantified Free Service.

"First, allow us to emphasize that the government gives high regard to these specialty hospitals, which for many decades have been proven beneficial to many Filipinos, particularly the general public. Whatever money is derived by these hospitals from their paying patients are plowed back to defray the expenses on their charity wards and services," it said.

"It is likewise important to note that the proposed funds for the four specialty hospitals, as provided both in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2022 and 2023, were actually unchanged, if not, increased," the DBM added.

Last week, Recto said the proposed budgetary subsidy for LCP was reduced to PHP630.2 million, down by PHP53.7 million from this year's PHP684 million; PHP1.76 billion for PHC, slashed by PHP121 million from PHP1.88 billion; and PHP1.15 billion for PCMC, or a PHP344 million cutback from PHP1.5 billion.

Recto also said the NKTI received the biggest cut of PHP362 million from PHP1.5 billion in 2022 to PHP1.15 billion in 2023.

The DBM clarified that the LCP received an increase of PHP225 million, noting that there was only an allocation of PHP404 million for the specialty hospital under the then proposed NEP for 2022.

It also said the supposed decline in the LCP's budget was due to "upward adjustments made by Congress."

"For the Lung Center of the Philippines, 2022 NEP allocated a total of PHP404 million, while 2023 NEP allocated PHP630 million, or an increase of PHP225 million. The 2023 allocated budget also reflects Lung Center of the Philippines’ budget proposal of PHP630 million," the DBM said.

"The seeming decrease in budget for Lung Center of the Philippines comes from comparing the actual 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to the 2023 NEP. In 2022 GAA, the allocated budget was further increased to PHP683.9 million due to upward adjustments made by Congress," it added.

The DBM said the PCMC would also get an increase of around PHP47 million from its proposed allocated fund in NEP for 2022.

"The PHP344 million budget decrease raised by Rep. Recto likewise pertains to the Congress-introduced upward adjustments included in the 2022 GAA, which allotted PHP1.5 billion for PCMC," it said.

It added that the proposed allocated budget for the PHC and the NKTI was similar to the allotted budget under the 2022 NEP.

The DBM said the supposed PHP121-million budget cut for PHC, as mentioned by Recto, "comes from the decrease pertaining to the upward adjustments by Congress in the 2022 GAA, including the construction of oxygen generating plant and purchase of various medical equipment."

It added that the PHP362-million slashed budget the NKTI would purportedly suffer "pertains to the congressional adjustments made in the 2022 GAA, which include additional assistance to indigent patients, procurement of electronic patient beds, and expansion of the OPD Building Phase II."

The DBM also noted that it has allotted PHP23 billion for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program which will fund the purchase of medical equipment, as well as the construction, rehabilitation and upgrading of barangay health stations, rural health units, polyclinics, local government units' hospitals, Department of Health's hospitals, and other various health facilities nationwide.

"The DBM yields to the collective wisdom of the honorable members of Congress on whether to increase or decrease the proposed funds of government agencies during the series of budget deliberations and hearings," it said. (PNA)