A party-list lawmaker on Thursday urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit of all the funds spent in the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the foreign loans and grants secured by the Philippines to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement, ACT-CIS Rep. Jocelyn Tulfo said the government should ensure that all these funds were and will be judiciously spent for the country’s Covid-19 response efforts.
She cited reports that the Department of Finance has secured around USD7.7 billion in foreign funds, of which USD5.11 billion had been disbursed to the government.
“The COA audit should start very soon. Time is of the essence because very soon the budget hearings for [the] 2021 budget will get underway and because the Bayanihan Act II is pending in Congress now,” she said.
“The people and Congress must know all the details of these foreign loans, grants, and bonds and whether they were spent properly. The Commission on Audit is the constitutional body with the specific mandate on this matter,” she added.
Tulfo said the audit body should also review all the funds authorized under the Bayanihan Act, noting that the budgetary details are only known to a few in the Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and disbursing agencies.
“Outside of them, no one knows the complete picture and the nuts and bolts. This cannot be as a matter of transparency and full disclosure,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, through the Bayanihan Act or Republic Act 11469, was granted 31 emergency powers to address the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have already drafted different versions of a bill replacing RA 11469 to extend Duterte’s temporary special powers for another three months. The difference between the two versions is particularly on the budgetary requirement for the stimulus package.
On June 27, Duterte expressed optimism that his administration would get Congress’ support anew to ensure the country’s quick recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Duterte made the remarks as he lauded Congress for its contribution to the passage of RA 11469, which enabled his administration to implement “timely” emergency measures to mitigate the adverse impact of Covid-19.
Source: Philippines News Agency