Villar laments measly DOH budget to address open defecation

Sen. Cynthia Villar has expressed disappointment over the measly budget the Department of Health (DOH) has allocated to address open defecation.

During the Senate subcommittee hearing on the proposed P160.15 billion budget of DOH for 2020 on Tuesday, Villar stressed that the P2 million allocation to build sanitary toilets under Environmental and Occupational Health is not enough to address open defecation.

Villar also raised that by estimation, given that there is at least 3.5 million Filipinos practicing open defecation in Metro Manila, there are at least 700,000 households needing adequate sanitary toilet facilities.

"Assuming we put the cost at a minimum of P1,000 per person, we will need a total of P3.5 billion for a period of 10 years if we are to achieve the target to end open defecation by 2030 in Metro Manila alone," Villar said.

Health Usec. Myrna Cabotaje said the department asked for P196 million for this purpose but only P2 million was given to them.

During the budget hearing, Villar also shared her frustration over the delay in the construction of toilets in Bgy. 649, Baseco Compound in Tondo, which only succeeded to build 500 toilets in the period of three years.

As one of the densely populated barangays in Manila, Barangay 649 has a total population of 43,000. Of the 8,000 households, 80% have no access to a sanitary toilet facility.

To directly address these problems, Villar has asked DOH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to act, which prompted the selection of the area as one of the recipients of the Environmental and Sanitation Project of Provision of Communal Public Toilets in 2016.

"President Duterte created a task force to clean and rehabilitate Manila Bay. If we cannot solve the problem of open defecation in Metro Manila, we all know that the waste of 3.5 million residents will end up in Manila Bay. That is why I am asking you, are you really serious in your promise to end open defecation by 2030?," Villar asked DOH officials.

For his part, DOH Sec. Francisco Duque supported Villar's statement that there is a need to speed up the construction of toilet facilities in Baseco.

Villar also suggested to give the money to another government agency that will be more capable of finishing the toilet project in Baseco.

Source: Senate of the Philippines