By Chito A. Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Sunday ordered the 81 governors to use the P6.197-billion “Bayanihan Grant to Provinces (BGP)’’ to implement the National Strategy Against the novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) in their respective turfs.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año issued this directive to the country’s 81 provincial governors as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to devastate the nation’s health and economic well-being.
“Time is of the essence in this time of crisis. I urge the governors to utilize the BGP in a quick and efficient way and at the same time be transparent and accountable in its use to address the COVID-19 crisis in their respective localities,” Año said.
He also emphasized that the provincial government should lead in contact-tracing of suspected COVID positives patients, isolate them in special facilities, treat them in well-equipped hospitals, and reintegrate them to the community once fully recovered in consonance with the National Strategy adopted by the IATF-MEID.
“The President, our legislators, and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) swiftly acted on giving Bayanihan Grant to LGUs for local officials to be better equipped in responding to your constituents’ needs. This is a one-time financial assistance to provinces. Let’s do our part in the proper use of this to save and protect lives,” he added.
As stated in the DBM Local Budget Circular No. 126, dated April 13, 2020, the BGP shall be exclusively used for the COVID-19 response related purposes and subject to the existing procurement, budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations.
He said the released amount is equivalent to 50 percent of the one-month Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of 81 provinces nationwide for this current fiscal year.
Año emphasized that the use of the BGP for the specified purpose of supporting COVID-19 efforts should augment and not duplicate the funds allocated for national government agencies like the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), among others.
“The DILG reminds the provincial LGUs that the released amount for BGP shall be used for the duration of this State of Calamity. Funds which remain unutilized after the lifting of the State of Calamity shall be reverted to the National Treasury by the recipient cities and municipalities,” he said in reference to the DBM Local Budget Circular No. 126,’’ he added.
Not chargeable to BGP
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya said that personal services expenditures, such as salaries, wages, overtime pay, and other personnel benefits, including Hazard Pay and Special Risk Allowance are not chargeable to the BGP.
Malaya clarified that administrative expenses such as office supplies, meetings, communication, water and electricity, petroleum products and other general services and the like are also prohibited expenses using the BGP.
“Also proscribed are traveling expenses, whether domestic or foreign; purchase of administrative office’ furniture, fixtures, equipment or appliances; and purchase, maintenance, or repair of motor vehicles, including ambulance,’’ he noted.
Where to use BGP
Malaya explained that the BGP is for the augmentation of the funding requirements for the operation of provincial, district, and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government, for Covid-19-related expenses.
Specifically, Malaya said it should be used for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE); equipment, reagents, and kits for Covid-19 testing; medicines and vitamins; and hospital equipment and supplies; disinfectants, sprayers, and other disinfecting supplies and misting equipment.
He stressed that BGP may be used for food, transportation (including fuel), and accommodation expenses of health workers and other personnel of the provincial, district, and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government; expenses for the construction/repair/lease/rental of additional space/building to accommodate Covid-19 patients and persons under monitoring/investigation; and expenses for training of medical/health personnel of the provincial, district, and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government relative to the conduct of Covid-19 testing and other related trainings.
The BGP also covers the expenses for the operation and maintenance of duly established provincial checkpoints related to COVID-19, such as provision of foods, medicines/vitamins, personal protective equipment, and disinfecting supplies for the exclusive use of provincial government employees and personnel concerned, including those hired under Contract of Service and Job Order schemes.
Malaya said, “Makiisa po tayo sa panawagan ni Pangulong Duterte na magtulungan para sa ikabibilis ng pagpapadama sa taumbayan ng tulong at kalinga ng pamahalaan (Let us heed President Duterte’s call to cooperate for the expeditious and compasionate delivery of government assistance and service to the public),’’ Malaya concluded.