Pangilinan seeks probe on ‘snail-paced’ use of Bayanihan 2 funds
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has urged the Senate to look into what he called a “snail-paced” disbursement and utilization of funds under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.
“Bakit mabagal? Minadali natin sa Kongreso ang dalawang Bayanihan at ang budget para masigurong may magagamit na pondo para sa maayos na pagkontrol sa Covid. Alam natin na ito ang susi sa pagbangon ng ating ekonomiya. Pero kung from disbursement at utilization sobrang bagal, baka patay na ang kabayo, ‘ika nga,” Pangilinan said in a statement on Thursday.
(Why is it slow? We rushed the passage of 2 Bayanihan (laws) and the budget in Congress to make sure we have funds to stop the spread of Covid. We know this is the key to economic recovery. But if we’re too slow from disbursement and utilization of funds, the horse might already be dead, so to speak.)
In Senate Resolution No. 647 filed Wednesday, the senator asked the appropriate Senate committee to conduct the probe in order to address the “critical gaps in the country’s Covid-19 response measures.”
In the resolution, Pangilinan pointed out delays in the release of contact tracers’ salaries, hazard pay and special allowances of health workers, cash subsidies to jeepney drivers, and the P83 billion of funds of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as the underspending of the Departments of Transportation, Public Works and Highways, and Agriculture (DA).
“These delays and underspending are unacceptable given that Bayanihan 2 was signed into law September 11, 2020,” he said.
“Five months na since naisabatas ang Bayanihan 2, ngunit ngayon ay 25% pa lang ang nagagamit ng DA. We cannot wait another 7 months para lang maging 50% ito lalo na ngayong hinaharap natin ang kawalan ng trabaho, mataas na presyo ng bilihin, nagkululang na suplay ng baboy.”
(It’s been five months since Bayanihan 2 was enacted into law but only 25 percent has been utilized by the DA. We cannot wait another 7 months to reach the 50 percent (disbursement) especially now we’re faced with unemployment, high prices of commodities, and shortage of pork supply)
Of the P140 billion Bayanihan 2 funds, Pangilinan also pointed out that only a total of P103.24 billion has been released based on the Office of the President’s report to the Senate on January 4.
Congress has already extended the validity of the law so the funds under Bayanihan 2 could still be utilized until June 30 this year.
“We are still in a pandemic which means the government must act with a sense of urgency: fast, efficient, and transparent. With the way things are now, who knows how long it will take to get the ball rolling. Tututukan natin ito sa Senado (Let’s zero in on this at the Senate),” Pangilinan further said.
The House of Representatives is also set to investigate unreleased funds under the Bayanihan 2.
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