‘Report fund disbursements every 15-30 days,’ Duterte orders gov’t agencies

Government agencies will now be required to make public their fund disbursements every 15 days or every month in the interest of transparency and accountability.

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 24, 2020. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte has ordered the Cabinet and other heads of agencies to publish in newspapers how they spent the public funds on goods and services, even down to the last paper clip.

According to the President, the publication of government procurement and other transactions will include the expenses related to the coronavirus response.

"They must prepare well in advance because I would require them to publish in the newspaper, sa tatlong newspapers of general circulation --- mamili na kayo kung anong newspaper ang gusto ninyo --- ipa-publish ko ito ang mga bibilhin at pagkatapos ipa-publish ko pagkatapos sa notice sino ‘yung bidders, ‘yung pangalan nila. I want them na kung saan sila nakatira (three newspapers of general circulation, you may choose which newspaper to publish your procurement plans and afterwards the notice about the bidders, their names. I want their home addresses too)," the President said during his televised address Tuesday.

"Sa Cabinet, another publication sa disbursement nila kung ilan ang ginastos nila ngayong buwan na ito o gusto mo every 15 days para mas maganda (To the Cabinet, there must be another publication in disbursement, on how much you spend this month or better every 15 days). Every 15 days you would know how much a department has disbursed (from the) money of the people," he said.

Duterte admitted that he was already reviewing the "objections" presented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on the frequency of the expenditure report. He said they may report their spending every month.

"But I will allow the rule to apply for them, ‘yung mag-report sila ng respective agency disbursement. Ilagay nila magkano ang ginastos and for what at the end of the month maybe or after --- hindi, buwanan mas maganda. Makita na nila kung ‘yung pinuntahan ng pera pumunta ba talaga at nagastos at sino (They must disclose how much they spent and for what at the end of the month, maybe or after, monthly will be better. They will see where the money went, if it was used for its purpose, and who were involved)," he added.

The President said he also expects government agencies to publish notice of procurement including details about their suppliers. He particularly mentioned corruption-tainted Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to observe the regular publication of their spending.

"Lalo na itong PhilHealth, maski paperclip i-publish ninyo at sino ‘yung bidder na mag-supply ng paperclip, maski isa. Isabi mo diyan sa newspaper para mabasa (Especially the Philhealth, you must publish even the paperclip, the bidder of the paperclip supplies, even if it's just one. Publish it in the newspaper so people can read). So I hope that I have made myself clear on this. More measures will come," he said.

To prevent corruption, the President has also asked Congress to help the government safeguard public funds. He said lawmakers may institute "safety measures" including regular oversight of the government spending, including the Bayanihan funds for COVID response.

Duterte said he is ready to order government agencies to report to a congressional committee every week if needed.

"It is not a matter of separation of powers. Iyan ‘yung parang expanded oversight lang na gusto lang man --- it is never illegal to know where your money is going," he said.

"I am urging Congress, as a matter of fact, I am demanding Congress to join us in putting up measures to ensure that the money is spent to its purpose. I am willing to give way at saka kung gusto ninyo ng accounting for every transaction, puwede rin," he said.

The President also maintained that the Bayanihan 1 and 2 programs are “clean" unlike the corruption allegations hounding PhilHealth. He voiced confidence that the national task force on COVID-19 led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana "will not allow corruption."

The two houses of Congress recently ratified the Bayanihan 2 law that includes a stimulus fund totaling P165.5-billion to address the pandemic and mitigate its impact on businesses, workers, poor families and other sectors.

The priority measure aimed at facilitating the country’s economic recovery is expected to be submitted to the President for his signature.