Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed a measure urging the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit of the government’s spending for its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response under the two laws Congress passed to combat the negative impact of the pandemic.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 710, Hontiveros said it is imperative for the COA to look into the government’s expenditure as the country’s health system remains overwhelmed due to the effects of COVID-19.
“Government must take a hard look into the mirror by doing a special audit of its financial decisions more than a year into the pandemic,” Hontiveros said.
The senator said Malacañang should release the financial reports of the government’s expenditure under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act (Bayanihan 1), as well as its expenses under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) as required by law.
She noted that the last financial report publicly released by Malacañang was on Jan. 4, 2021, despite the “overwhelming” need to fund programs and the spike in COVID-19 cases soon after.
Hontiveros also noted that until now, health workers have not received their hazard pay and many families have not received any financial assistance from the government.
There is also evidently a lack of health facilities, despite Department of Budget and Management (DBM) saying it has spent over P570-billion on the COVID-19 response.
“Kung tama nga ang paggastos ng P570-billion, bakit may mga pasyente pa rin na karton ang hinihigaan sa labas ng mga ospital (If they spent the P570-billion wisely, then why are there patients lying in makeshift cartons outside hospitals)?” she pointed out.
“I ask my colleagues in the Senate to adopt the resolution immediately. It is our duty as legislators to exercise our power of the purse judiciously,” Hontiveros said.
In July last year, six senators filed Senate Resolution No. 479 urging the COA to look into the government’s spending on the Bayanihan 1.
Those who signed the resolution include Hontiveros, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Sonny Angara and minority senators Franklin Drilon, Leila de Lima and Francis Pangilinan.
Hontiveros said this second resolution for a special audit is necessary as it is crucial to evaluate the government’s expenses while budget deliberations for the proposed 2022 national budget draws closer. [Hannah L. Torregoza]