MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assured the public on Tuesday that it had already started distributing funds from the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act of 2020 to various government agencies.
The DBM made this statement after several senators slammed the agency for not releasing most of the funds allocated under Republic Act No. 11494, dubbed as the Bayanihan 2, which aims to help people affected economically by the pandemic.
The first Bayanihan law, the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, was meant to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to reprogram, reallocate and realign items in the 2020 national budget to the government’s COVID-19 response, Bayanihan 2 provides stimulus funding worth P140 billion — with P25 billion as standby funds.
According to DBM, P4.413 billion of the P140 billion — only 3.15 percent of the total initial stimulus package — has been distributed.
Of this P4.413 billion, P2.552 billion was released to the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the hiring and training of contact tracers. Another P855.1 million was allocated to the Office of Civil Defense for the construction and maintenance of isolation facilities.
A total of P215.4 million was then provided to local government units through the Bureau of Treasury, to support COVID-19 efforts, while P820 million was given to the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist repatriates who came from COVID-19 stricken countries.
Despite the low percentage of fund use, DBM noted that P46.20 billion of the funds were being processed and had been recommended to the Office of the President.
This includes the following allocations:
- Department of Labor and Employment (P8 billion, COVID adjustment measures, Tupad livelihood assistance program
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (P6 billion, Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation/ Sustainable Livelihood Program)
- Department of Agriculture (P11.63 billion, Plant, Plant Plant Program Implementation)
- Department of Health (P20.57 billion, health-related response including augmentation of health workers, special risk allowances, actual hazard duty pay, accommodation, transportation, and meals for health workers, other compensation)
The Bayanihan 2, which was signed into law by Duterte last September, was meant to cover any shortcomings in the pre-COVID-19 budget. But senators slammed DBM on Monday after learning that they had not yet received funding from Bayanihan 2.
Some senators also noted that the funds allocated in the Bayanihan 2 were set to expire by Dec. 19 — which if not acted upon, may result in a waste of funds that could have been used to help workers and small businesses.
The DBM clarified that it was expecting other departments to file their budget requests soon.
“As to the remaining balance of the allocated amounts, the DBM expects the respective Departments/Agencies to submit their corresponding budget requests, outlining the specific items of expenditures, targeted beneficiaries and expected outputs consistent with existing budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations and reflected through their respective Budget Execution Documents and Disbursement Programs,” DBM said.
“As soon as these requests are received, the DBM will immediately evaluate the same to ensure their alignment with the intention of RA No. 11494 and will recommend to the President the release of funds charged against the identified funding sources,” it added.
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