'BTS' bloc seeks House inquiry on Bayanihan funds spending

Published April 27, 2021, 8:12 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Former House speaker and Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano is calling for an inquiry into how the government had spent the funds under the first two Bayanihan laws.

Former House speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Alan Peter Cayetano/Facebook)

The administration ally said Tuesday, April 27, that he, along with members of Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso group in the Lower Chamber, will file a resolution on the matter.

“Basically we want to inquire into Bayanihan 1 and 2 and use that inquiry also in the discussion sa (of) Bayanihan 3,” Cayetano disclosed in a media interview.

“Kung ano ang tama sa Bayanihan 1 and 2 kailangan nasa Bayanihan 3. Kung anong mali, dapat i-correct; kung anong hindi nilabas ang pondo, dapat sagutin ng gobyerno bakit (What’s good in the Bayanihan 1 and 2 should be contained in the Bayanihan 3. What’s wrong must be corrected; and any funds not released should be explained by the government),” he added.

Cayetano mentioned for instance the P4-billion appropriation for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) supposed purchase of tablets or laptops for distance learning and delivery of self learning modules under the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act, or Bayanihan 2.

“Remember, we passed Bayanihan 2 August [last year]…eight months na, ni isang paracetamol na tablet — hindi na Samsung, o hindi na Apple, or kung anumang brand ng tablet — wala pa akong nakikitang lumalabas sa DepEd (it’s been eight months, that not a single paracetamol, not anymore Samsung or Apple or any brand of tablet — has been released by the DepEd),” he said.

“So I want to know why,” he added.

On the other hand, he cited the cash assistance to low-income families as a “good” program under the Bayanihan law.

Aside from determining programs that were “effective”, Cayetano said he also seeks to know “which programs were funded and which ones were not, and why.”

“Third, if effective, do we legislate more of such programs? And if it’s not effective, we have to study why,” he added.

The “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act, or Bayanihan 1, gave President Duterte the authority to realign at least P275 billion in the appropriations for 2020 for COVID-19 response. It expired on June 24, 2020.

The Bayanihan 2, meanwhile, appropriated P165.5 billion to sustain the government’s resources and programs to address the pandemic.