THE government has already released P76.2 billion, or 54.45 percent, of the P140 billion Bayanihan 2 funds to different agencies implementing measures to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, President Duterte reported to Congress on Tuesday.
Duterte, in his second report to Congress in compliance with the requirement under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also said that different departments have already spent a total of P1.75 billion for their COVID-19 response measures but these were charged to their regular budget for 2020.
The President said fund releases were equally distributed to the departments to put a balance between enhancing the current health care capacity of the country, uplift the socioeconomic well-being of Filipinos and the urgent need to reboot the economy.
In the second report to Congress, Duterte said P20.57 billion was released to the Department of Health (DOH), which is the frontrunner in the government’s continuing fight against the coronavirus.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) got P13.1 billion as additional fund to assist displaced workers and returning overseas Filipino workers affected by the pandemic; the Department of Agriculture (DA) had P12.03 billion for its stimulus packages for farmers and fishermen; the Department of Transportation (DOTr), P9.5 billion for public transportation sector and fuel subsidies; the Department of Finance (DOF), P8.08 billion; and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P6 billion to cover cash assistance and food packages for households affected by the pandemic or those placed under granular lockdowns.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) received P2.52 billion, which it can use in the hiring and training of contact tracers, while P1 billion was given to the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and another P1 billion to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to cover the interest of loans obtained by local government units (LGUs).
The Department of National Defense-Office of Civil Defense received P855.1 million for the operating requirements of COVID-19 facilities; the Department of Foreign Affairs, P820 million for assistance extended to Filipinos overseas; while the DOF received an additional P451 million to support LGU priority programs.
The Philippine Sports Commission got P180 million for the allowance of athletes and coaches, while the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secured P100 million for the Balik Probinsya program. The DOLE-Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) received P2.5 million to implement computer-based licensure examinations.
The President said additional releases will be made as soon as possible depending on the budget requests, which he said should be submitted along with all necessary supporting documents.
Duterte had already given the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) the go signal to release requests made by executive offices authorized to receive extra funding under the Bayanihan 2 law. He said the DBM no longer needs to wait for a clearance from his office to release the funds to ensure that government assistance to the people is not delayed.
Aside from the Bayanihan 2 funds, the President said the DBM had also already released some P1.753 billion worth of funds sourced from the 2020 national budget.
The releases include P994.7 million to replenish the quick response fund of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); P730 million to the DOH to fund its health system enhancement program, which is primarily being funded by a loan from the Asian Development Bank; and P28.7 million to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process(OPAPP).
The President said with the passage of the Bayanihan 2 Act, financial grants given to local government units have also been extended. So far, 878 LGUs have received their additional funding.
Duterte said P19.089 billion had already been distributed to local government units which went to food assistance and relief goods distributed to affected households (P9.944 billion), financing COVID-19 related programs, projects and activities (P2.19 billion); procurement of hospital equipment and supplies (P1.623 billion); procurement of medicines and vitamins (P1.317 billion), and construction and lease of buildings used for accommodations of COVID-19 patients and persons monitoring their situation (P1.022 billion), among others.