Binay: 'What’s keeping gov't from disbursing funds to address COVID-19?'

Published June 22, 2021, 10:13 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday, June 22 said government should tell the public what is keeping it from disbursing available funds that are supposed to be used to effectively combat the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Binay pointed out that the government has at least three sources of funds to disburse to fight the global health crisis—the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA), this year’s 2021 GAA, and the budget under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 or the government’s economic stimulus program.

“The people on the ground—they need that money. We allocated that money because we believe our kababayans (fellowmen) need them. We don’t know exactly what and where the problem lies. Why can’t the funds be released?” Binay pointed out in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

“Is it the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that is the problem? Is it the implementing agency? I think those are the questions we need to ask. Where is the bottleneck when it comes to the release of the funds,” she pointed out.

Binay also expressed disappointment that there are still a huge amount of funds unobligated under the Bayanihan 2 law.

The Department of Health (DOH), she noted, can tap the P18-billion funds supposedly allocated for health care workers (HCWs) instead of asking Congress for another P66-million for the allowances of (HCWs).

“There’s an allocation for that under the Bayanihan 2. I think that is included in the P18-billion that until now are not yet disbursed to healthcare workers,” she explained.

“The money is there, the problem is the disbursement,” she emphasized.

Other senators who have urged the government to rush the disbursement of the funds under Bayanihan 2—which is set to expire on June 30—are Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier revealed that P123.2-billion or roughly 87 percent of the Bayanihan 2 has been obligated.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III had said majority of the senators support extending the validity of the stimulus program given its current status.