De Lima: Gov’t must be transparent on how it spends funds for COVID-19 response
MANILA, Philippines — Saying that the public is still “left in the dark” as to how the government is spending funds in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Senator Leila De Lima on Wednesday urged the government to be more transparent in the reporting of budget realignments and fund utilization.
In a statement, she also questioned why Malacañang has been reporting inconsistent data on how the funds were spent.
“Ayon sa Bayanihan Law, kailangang malinaw kung saan galing at saan napupunta ang pondo sa pagtugon sa pandemya. Pero sa loob ng labingtatlong linggo ng pag-uulat ng Malacañang, bakit kulang-kulang ang datos ukol dito? May itinatago ba ang gobyerno?” she questioned, referring to Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
(According to the Bayanihan Law, it should be clear where and how the funds are spent to address the pandemic. But in the 13 weeks that Malacañang has been reporting, why is the data inconsistent? Are they hiding something?)
“Ang gusto nating malaman: Ang pondo bang ginagamit ay mula sa donasyon o sa utang? Ano ang suma-tutal ng mga donasyon? Magkano ang kabuuang inutang at anu-ano ang mga terms and conditions nito? Anu-ano ang mga nire-align na pondo mula sa Pambansang Budget?” De Lima, chair of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, added.
(What we only want to know, did the funds used come from donations or from loans? What is the total amount of donations? How much was borrowed and what were the terms and conditions imposed? What were the funds that were realigned from the national budget?)
She cited that data from the Department of Budget and Management, P335.1 billion had been released to seal with COVID-19. Of the amount, P199.9 billion was allotted to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the social amelioration program (SAP).
De Lima also cited data from the Bureau of Treasury, which shows government borrowings skyrocketing to P8.6 trillion in April alone.
“Given all these figures, we are still left in the dark with regards to how the government is handling the funds to address the health and socioeconomic crises brought about by COVID-19, considering that many Filipinos from the vulnerable sectors continue to struggle with surviving their day-to-day lives because of the pandemic,” De Lima said.
Previously, the opposition senator noted that the DSWD had failed to distribute the first tranche of SAP to 291,722 poor families, thereby missing its own adjusted target of aiding almost 18 million impoverished households.
With this, De Lima said a detailed government report on COVID-19 response spending is needed to “address possible corruption amid the pandemic.”
“Bilyon-bilyong piso ang pinag-uusapan dito—pera ng bayan na inilaan para tugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga sektor na labis na naapetukhan ng krisis. Dapat hayag sa publiko ang bawat sentimong nilalabas, ginagastos, o pinamimigay. Bawal ang hokus-pokus!” she said.
(We’re talking about billions of pesos—public funds were used to give help to the sectors most affected by the crisis. The public should be notified about every cent that was released, spent, and given. Hocus pocus is now allowed!)
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