President Duterte on Tuesday told Congress that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is now mandating all national government agencies (NGA) to utilize any and all released allotment from 2019 and 2020 national budget to support the Covid-19 response of the government.
In an 18-page report submitted to Congress, President Duterte said all agencies with existing released allotment to accommodate their respective Covid-19 response activities are:
P53.2 million of Department of Science and Technology for the production of 1,300 Covid-19 testing kits for 26,000 tests, delivery, training for the administration of the tests and genome sequencing validation;
P108.7 billion for Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, P23.9 billion for Social Pension for Indigent Filipino Citizens, P6.6 billion for Assistance for Indigents in Crisis Situation and P1.2-billion Quick Response Fund (QRF) of Department of Social Welfare and Development;
P9.4-billion Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients and P600-million QRF of Department of Health; and
P4.3 billion for the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged, or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) and Government Internship Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
According to DOLE, the total amount disbursed for Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program and TUPAD is now at P95.4 million.
Moreover, President Duterte said the DBM has already started the preparation of a master list of all items categorized as “for late release” under special purpose fund worth P372.2 billion. The SPF will include budgetary support to government corporations and allocation to local government units.
As of March 27, the Chief Executive said no SPFs have been utilized for Covid-19 measures except for the P500 million replenishment of the DOH’s QRF.
To ensure uninterrupted access to cash, President Duterte said the Department of Finance and Bureau of Treasury added P300 billion to its cash reserves by securing a repurchase agreement facility with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
According to the President, the Department of Transportation has remitted dividends in advance amounting to P10 billion to fortify the government spending measures to address this emergency.
He said the DOF is also in discussion with government-owned corporations on the dividends to be collected, saying the P100-billion dividend collection will include the excess revenue collected or unprogrammed revenue.
The Bayanihan to Heal As One Act authorizes the President to consider abandoned the purpose of any unutilized or unreleased balance as of date of declaration of State of Emergency, and all such funds, including future collections and receipts, shall be deemed appropriated for measures to address Covid-19.
It also authorized the President to direct the discontinuation of appropriated programs, projects and activities of any agency of the Executive department, whether released or unreleased, the allotments for which remain unobligated, and to utilize such savings to augment the allocation for Covid-19 emergency.
Also, to ensure the availability of credit to the productive sectors of the economy, especially in the countryside, the President said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is preparing for the implementation of P1-billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing, which includes restart and/or restock of businesses to avoid foreclosure of their business assets.
He said this DTI’s program will start once quarantine restriction are lifted.
President Duterte also said the task force has recommended the suspension of the export percentage requirements for export enterprises engaged in the manufacture of much-needed medical supplies to allow them to operate and sell domestically for the use of local medical facilities.
Meanwhile, the President said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases already approved the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) for the implementation guidelines of the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP).
He said the JMC serves as a guide to streamline social amelioration programs of the DSWD, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Agriculture (DA), and local government units, among others, to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19. The ESP includes the provision of cash, or non-cash subsidy, for low-income household beneficiaries amounting from P5,000 to P8,000 per month for two months.
The subsidy amount for Metro Manila is P8,000; CAR (P5,500) Region 1 (P5,500) Region 2 (P5,500), Region 3 (P6,500), Region 4A (P6,500), Region 4B (P5,000), Region 5 (P5,000), Region 6 (P6,000), Region 7 (P6,000), Region 8 (P5,000), Region 9 (P5,000), Region 10 (P6,000), Region 11 (P6,000), Region 12 (P5,000), Caraga (P5,000) and ARMM (P5,000).
He said the DOF will provide technical assistance to the DSWD in forming a consolidated database that will host Covid-19 social amelioration programs.
The President added the DOF is also working with the IATF-Technical Working Group for the submission of the budget augmentation requests to the DBM, mapping of household beneficiaries based on the consolidated database, and finalization of the operational guidelines for the ESP implementation, to be rolled out on April 1, 2020.
He said the DSWD is also undertaking the implementation of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), among the recipients of the assistance include residents from the National Capital Region, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan. Also, requests groups such as Banda, Grab, Transport Network Vehicle Service, NVS, Angkas, Joyride, SNMNO and TODA are currently being facilitated, subject to the submission of requirements needed.
For his part, House Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda, co-author of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, said that the rollout of the ESP will act as an incentive for families to comply with social distancing measures.
“The quick rollout of the ESP will help us keep families at home. Kapag wala na kasing pera, lalabas talaga yan para makapaghanapbuhay. Or in the worst conditions, be forced to violate the law. We’re definitely not yet in recovery stage but we want to keep society from reaching a stage of desperation for now, while we’re still in survival mode,” the lawmaker said.
Earlier, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte assured the public that Congress would be exercising its oversight functions to ensure that all acts performed by the Duterte administration are within the bounds of the special but limited powers—and with restrictions—that Congress has vested in President Duterte so his government could best respond to the pandemic.
The principal author in the House of the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” pointed out that this measure requires the President to submit weekly reports to the Congress on all acts carried out by the Executive department in the preceding week, in pursuit of government efforts to contain the spread of the virus and attend to infected people and those who had been exposed to them.
Alongside reporting all acts performed in the preceding week in pursuit of RA 11469, Villafuerte said the weekly reports to Congress shall include the amount and corresponding utilization of the funds used, augmented, reallocated, realigned and reprogrammed under this law.
For this purpose, the Camarines Sur lawmaker said RA 11469 provides for the creation of a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee to determine whether such acts, orders, rules and regulations fall within the restrictions on such special powers as so provided by the law.
This oversight committee—to be composed of four senators and four House members—shall determine whether the acts, orders, rules and regulations carried out by the government are within the restrictions set by RA 11469, he added.
Image credits: Toto Lozano/Malacañang Presidential Photographers Division via AP
Is the government really making the right priorities?
Does it really intend to strike the core of the problem?
Was DOH ever present when this report was made?
This report just broke my heart.
The administration did not address the issue of where the P275 billion is, as what will be used are “…any and all released allotment from 2019 and 2020 national budget to support the Covid-19 response of the government.”
This is nowhere close to being enough, how shameful.