CAMARINES Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, a principal author of the two Bayanihan laws at the House of Representatives, yesterday urged agencies in charge of the government’s COVID-19 response programs to make a public accounting of how the funds appropriated by lawmakers to control the spread of the coronavirus have been spent.
Villafuerte said the Department of Health (DOH), the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 should update the public on the projects supposed to have been funded under the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2) to contain the pandemic.
Villafuerte said government should make public the status of the projects funded under the Bayanihan 2, such as those for the establishment of temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) and the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs), face masks and other medical supplies.
He particularly wants to find out the status of the fund releases and implementation of the P4.5-billion appropriations under Bayanihan 2 for the construction and maintenance of isolation facilities, including the billings of hotels, food and transportation used for the Covid-19 response and recovery program by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
“We urge these offices to report to the Congress the status of these funds, which is mandated under Bayanihan 2 or Republic Act (RA) No. 11494. With the extension of the validity of the available Bayanihan 2 appropriations under RA 11519, these offices should take the initiative to continue reporting on what have been accomplished thus far with the COVID-related budgetary outlays,” said Villafuerte, who principally authored both the Bayanihan 1 (RA 11469) and Bayanihan 2 laws, as well as RA 11519 extending the validity of Bayanihan 2 appropriations until June 30 this year.
Under the law’s regular appropriations, Villafuerte said the government should also provide an update on the P13.5 billion allocated for health-related responses such as continuous employment and additional human resource for health, DOH hospitals operations, special risk allowance for public and private healthcare workers, hazard pay, free life insurance and other benefits, and the P3 billion set aside for the procurement of face masks, PPE, shoe covers and other necessary medical supplies for health frontliners.
Villafuerte said the DOH also has the responsibility to update the public of its use of its P10-billion appropriation under Bayanihan 2 for the procurement of vaccines.