December 2, 2022

The city council has requested the Local Finance Committee to formulate the total budgetary requirements for the city’s Covid-19 response operations for the remaining months of the year. 

During the council’s regular session on Oct. 18, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda inquired whether the funds allocated for the city’s operational response to Covid-19 will be adequately sustained up to the end of the year. 

The city council earlier approved the request of the executive body for a P94.29 million supplemental budget to augment the city’s Covid-19 operations.

The projects to be funded by the supplemental budget are the maintenance of the Baguio City Community Isolation Unit or BCCIU and former Sto. Nino Hospital (P18,143,761) and Baguio Teachers’ Camp (P16,714,494); contact tracing operations (P20,287,656); Baguio Convention Center Triage (P13,415,248); Covid-19 vaccine rollout (P20,635,316); protecting and shielding the vulnerable population (P4,338,600), strengthening the conduct of mass testing to constituents (P400,000); mental health care and wellness program (P201,450); and strengthening the Emergency Operation Center/One Hospital Command Center (P162,864).

City Health Services Officer Rowena Galpo told the council all needed projects related to Covid-19 response for the remaining months of the year are already covered by the recently approved supplementary budget.

However, Tabanda suggested an overall budget plan be made and submitted to the city council to determine whether the allocated funds are sufficient. 

Galpo said the P43-M remittance from PhilHealth-Cordillera is not enough to sustain the operations of the Sto. Nino Hospital and Baguio Teachers’ Camp Isolation Unit, especially that not all patients admitted in these facilities are assured of PhilHealth coverage.

“As per the Department of Health memorandum, only those within the age range of 18 to 59 years old admitted in the facilities are covered by PhilHealth. Anyone below or above the age range is no longer covered,” Galpo said.

Last year, the BCCIU with a 360-bed capacity and the Baguio Teachers’ Camp with a 316-bed capacity were accredited by PhilHealth for the isolation requirements of mild and asymptomatic patients. 

Tabanda requested the City Legal Office to study if the agreement between PhilHealth-CAR and the city government regarding the limitations in the PhilHealth coverage is in accordance with the Universal Health Care Act.

“If you are declared by a PhilHealth member as a dependent or if you’re a senior citizen, shouldn’t you be automatically covered by PhilHealth? Why are some patients disqualified?” Tabanda asked.

City Legal Officer Richard Dayag agreed to study the MOA and promised to come up with recommendations. – Jordan G. Habbiling