By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday stressed that the P30.824 billion “Bayanihan Grant to Cities and Municipalities” approved by the President should be solely used for novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) related programs.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said these projects and activities include the purchase of relief goods for low-income and vulnerable households; procurement of personal protective equipment for frontline service providers, medicines and vitamins, hospital equipment and supplies; disinfectants and related equipment and tents for temporary shelter of the homeless, among others.
He emphasized that the President gave a thumbs up for the release of the funds to boost the capacities of the local government units (LGUs) to respond to the needs of their constituents amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Año noted that the one-time grant to cities and municipalities is equivalent to one month of their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) which they can use for their COVID-19 response and relief efforts.
The DILG chief cited that the national government understood the daunting challenge the LGUs are facing in providing aid to their constituents in the midst of the health crisis.
Through the “Bayanihan Grant to Cities and Municipalities’’, Año said the LGUs will be provided with the capability to come to the aid and address the needs of their constituents especially the poor among the poorest who were severely affected by the COVId-19 pandemic.
Año also bared that the LGUs had expressed deep appreciation to the President for his speedy approval of the request.
He also thanked Senator Bong Go who first proposed this measure for the LGUs that are the frontlines of the war against COVID-19.
Año also demanded that the cities and municipalities should ensure that the Bayanihan Grant is utilized properly to maximize the distribution of the appropriate benefits of their constituents.
“Naniniwala ako na mas alam at ramdam ninyo ang pangangailangan sa inyong sinasakupan kaya siguruhin po sana natin na gagamitin natin ng maayos ang pondong ito para sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan. (I believe that you are fully aware and know deeply the needs of your constituents so ensure that this funds are used for the welfare of the public),” said Año.
He also reiterated his call to shun politics in this time of crisis and ensure that help is given even regardless of the political affiliations in the barangays.
The DILG chief reminded them of the “No Epal (No to Attention Seeking Ploy)” provision in compliance with the guidelines released by the government in the distribution of relief goods.
He also urged the public to do their part in helping combat the COVID-19 crisis by obeying the guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine set by the government and cooperating with authorities.
Año said that in order for the country to rise above a crisis of this scope and magnitude, the people should be committed and united to tread the path of cooperation, healing and recovery.
Explaining further, Año said that the Bayanihan Grant will be sourced from the discontinued projects of some government agencies under Republic Act 11465 or FY 2020 General Appropriations Act.
In a Memorandum to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel E. Avisado, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea has already informed the DBM of the President’s approval of the Bayanihan grant and ordered the immediate release of the funds to cities and municipalities.