Drilon: Govt should be ready to sacrifice some projects for COVID-19 response
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said the government should be ready to sacrifice some projects to fund measures to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Drilon made the call as he noted that some items in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act—a law passed as a part of the government’s response to COVID-19—are still unfunded.
“Tough times call for tough decisions. We are now seeing the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19. It is not only the poorest that are affected but also the middle class, as well as small business owners. Sadly, the government’s wallet is depleting as the rest of the Filipino people,” Drilon said in a statement.
“Kung ang gobyerno hirap maghanap ng pera sa panahon ngayon, paano pa kaya ang ordinaryong Pilipino, ang mga nawalan ng trabaho, ang maliliit na mamumuhunan na nawalan ng negosyo,” the senator added.
Drilon said that the government managers can “free up some funds that would not be utilized for the intended purpose and realign it to the amelioration programs.”
This includes the government’s flagship infrastructure projects that will be “impossible to be fully implemented within the year” and whose budget can be realigned for programs in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Drilon said.
The senator explained that under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), about P30.17 billion is allotted for bridge construction, P52.8 billion for asset preservation program, P113.39 billion for network development program, and P90.12 billion for the department’s flood management program.
“The government should reach out to all affected sectors. If we do not roll out a parallel assistance, our economy will surely collapse,” Drilon said.
“Families classified as middle-class today are not earning any income. Likewise, small business owners risk losing their jobs and livelihood due to the lockdown. Their needs may be different but all of them need help,” he added.
Drilon earlier raised concerns over the lack of sufficient funds for COVID-19 response.
This as government disbursements are expected to slow down as revenue collections are also affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our tight fiscal space seriously affects the government’s capability to address COVID-19,” Drilon said.
As of Monday afternoon, there are 3,660 COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll reaching 163.
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