‘Account for funds spent in COVID response,’ Duterte orders gov’t agencies

President Duterte has ordered government agencies to submit an accounting of the funds spent for various efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Monday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on August 17, 2020. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The expenditure report on the COVID-related programs will form part of the President's public address on Monday, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

The President is expected to convene a meeting with some Cabinet members in Davao City Monday and address the nation afterwards.

"Mag a-address ang Presidente. Isa sa hiningi ni Presidente ngayon para sa talumpati niya ay 'yung report ng lahat ng ahensiya ng gobyerno kung paano nagastos ang mga COVID-related expenses so ire-report po 'yan ng ating Presidente (The President will deliver an address. One of the things the President asked for his speech today is the report from all government agencies on how the funds for COVID-related expenses (were spent). So the President will give a report on that)," Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday.

The President has asked for an accounting of the COVID funds after the government recently relaxed lockdown measures in a bid to revive the economy and livelihood of the people. Health measures such as testing, quarantine, and treatment have also been escalated to ensure public health as the government attempts to live with the coronavirus until a vaccine is found.

The country's cases of coronavirus infections have so far soared to 189,601, which the Palace has attributed to increased testing. Of the total COVID cases, the number of recoveries increased to 131,367 while the death toll reached 2,998 as of August 23.

Five months since the first strict lockdown was put in place, the government has allotted P376.57 billion to various government agencies to support their COVID-related programs based on the August 10 report released by the Department of Budget and Management.

Of the COVID-19 fund releases, the government drew P266.52 billion from pooled savings from discontinued programs, activities and projects, P100.19 billion from special purpose funds, and P9.8 billion from the regular budget of agencies.

Th Department of Social and Welfare Development, in charge of the emergency subsidy program for low income families, got the largest allocation with P200.97 billion based on the DBM report.

The Department of Finance came second with P88.13 billion, followed by the Department of Health with P48.9 billion, and the Department of Labor and Employment with P12.58 billion.

Other departments that received COVID funds are Department of Agriculture, P11.38 billion; Department of Education, P10.91 billion; Department of National Defense, P1.35 billion; Department of Public Works and Highways, P842 million; Department of Interior and Local Government, P747 million; Department of Trade and Industry, P203 million;

Department of Science and Technology, P53.23 million; Department of Foreign Affairs, P5.09 million; University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, P400 million; and, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, P500,000.