Lacson calls out Duterte, says there is underspending of Bayanihan 2 funds
MANILA, Philippines — Not only did Senator Panfilo Lacson call out President Rodrigo Duterte for accusing him of something he did not initially say, the lawmaker also said that there is underspending of funds under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.
“After PRRD (President Duterte) falsely accused me of saying that they underspent under Bayanihan 2, I became curious,” Lacson said in a tweet Monday, hours ahead of the Chief Executive’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Lacson explained that underspending is not determined by the amount of released funds but of the amount obligated and disbursed for programs or projects.
“Here it is: Underspending is determined NOT by RELEASES but by OBLIGATIONS & DISBURSEMENTS. Obligation Rate is 78.84%, while Disbursement Rate is 69.49%. Is there underspending? YES!” the senator said.
In a public address aired late Saturday, Duterte specifically mentioned the names of Lacson as well as Senate President Vicente Sotto III as among the senators who supposedly said that the government is underspending Bayanihan funds.
“Ang problema ko, may isa pa [I have another problem]. I keep hearing Senators Lacson, if I’m not mistaken, I forgot the others, Sotto, that we are underspending sa [under] Bayanihan. Is this true?” Duterte had said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III then told the President that the Department of Budget and Management has already released a total of around P660 billion in COVID-19 funds.
The P660 billion includes funds under two Bayanihan laws, the other one being the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, as well as regular funds under agency budgets.
“What they (lawmakers) are referring to as ‘underspending’ is P6 billion or one percent of the total,” Dominguez told Duterte.
“The Department of Budget and ourselves are going to each department to see where the 6 billion is. But, Mr. President, this is one percent…In relation to what we have released of P660 billion, this is one percent,” he added.
Dominguez said they are asking each department “to really spend the money.”
“The problem is, you know, one thing very wrong with Congress is that they are not listening when you are talking. So it would be better to give it a little shout. Eh ‘yang sa Bisaya ‘tira-pasagad,’ kung maski saan na lang tatama,” Duterte said.
(The problem is, you know, one thing very wrong with Congress is that they are not listening when you are talking. So it would be better to give it a little shout. In Visayan, that’s called ‘tira-pasagad.’ They’re shooting anywhere.)
“The criticism is always on the Executive Department, tayo ‘yung nage-execute sa [we are the ones executing) laws. So when they say that you are not spending the money correctly because there is underspending, and it turns out it’s only one percent,” he added.
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