Senate to scrutinize how gov’t will spend foreign loans for COVID-19 response – Drilon
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday assured that how the government spent the billions in foreign loans and grants for its COVID-19 response will be scrutinized during budget deliberations in the upper chamber.
“During the budget hearings, we can inquire into these because there are funds, which were authorized to be spent and therefore, in exercise of our oversight functions, it is a question that will be asked,” Drilon told reporters during a virtual Kapihan sa Manila Bay.
“The COA (Commission on Audit) is there. It has a mandate under the Constitution to see to it the funds are properly spent,” he added.
As of July, foreign borrowing, loans and grants secured by the Philippine government in its response to the coronavirus pandemic have amounted to $7.76 billion or over P386 billion.
“There is an existing law that requires the government to report on the level of our indebtedness, sourced from foreign and local borrowings,” the Senate minority leader went on.
“It is expected that it will be submitted and how it was applied. Remember that our tax collections went down. That is why there is a push to have more borrowings because we have no choice,” it added.
Meanwhile, Drilon supported the administration’s willingness to sell government assets to fund the fight against the pandemic and to purchase COVID-19 vaccines once they are available.
“Why do Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame have to be in city centers? That’s a huge asset. The land management experts can craft a policy which will make the government realize the maximum revenue,” he said.
To date, the Philippines has recorded 58,850 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 1614 fatalities and 20,976 recoveries.
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