COVID funds fully accounted for – Palace

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    MALACAŇANG can fully account how it disbursed funds allocated for the government’s response strategies to curb the spread of the coronavirus, administration officials said on Thursday following the call of senators for a special audit of the allocation made under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan Act).

    National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. vouched for the integrity of those who handled and spent the public funds while presidential spokesman Harry Roque welcomed the proposed audit.

    The two leaders assured senators and the public that the national government is not hiding anything and said that all funds were accordingly used for their intended programs.

    Roque said that during the effectivity of the Bayanihan Act, President Duterte faithfully submitted to Congress a weekly report on how the COVID-allocated funds were spent.

    He added the administration had also always acknowledged that all spending will be reviewed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

    “Dahil wala naman kaming itinatago, we welcome the special audit, noting na talaga namang i-audit po iyan ng COA, dahil ang COA po ay post-audit po ang kanilang ginagawa (Because we are not hiding anything, we welcome the special audit, noting that it will really to be audited by the COA because COA conducts post audits),” he said.

    Galvez said bulk of the funds was used to attend to the needs of the public, including the hospitalization of infected individuals and the upgrade of hospitals, and the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits and other medical supplies which include those brought from actual suppliers to lower the cost and acquire more products, among others.

    “Maitataya po namin ang aming integridad sa pagbili ng mga tinatawag nating pangangailangan ng ating mga mamamayan dito sa paglaban sa COVID (We can bet our integrity in the purchases of things needed by the public in this fight against COVID),” Galvez said.

    Roque said he would make a detailed accounting of the disbursement of the funds, including a powerpoint presentation, on Monday.

    Administration and opposition senators on Tuesday filed a resolution seeking a special COA inventory on government spending and donations received in relation to its COVID-19 response under the Bayanihan Act.

    The Bayanihan Act allowed the government to swiftly procure commodities, facilities, utilities and services deemed necessary to ensure the successful and efficient implementation of its COVID-19 strategies, with exemptions from the requirements of bidding as laid out in the Government Procurement Reform Act.

    Senate Resolution 479 was filed by Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto, minority leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Panfilo Lacson, and Juan Edgardo Angara. They wanted to know how the government spent the donations and funds allotted for the COVID-19 response, and asked COA “to release its findings before the Philippine Congress begins its deliberations on the 2021 national budget.”

    The Department of Budget and Management has said that the government has spent P360.455 billion for its COVID-19 measures as of June 30.

    Donations received by the government, according the World Health Organization (WHO), have reached $6.5 billion, “not including loans and grants from various entities and organizations.”

    On the other hand, loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank were placed at $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion respectively, or a total of $2.6 billion, or P129.9 billion.

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