MANILA - The government can use national budget insertions to fund the additional P20 billion needed for vaccine procurement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Monday.
Lacson said these insertions are tagged as "for later release" (FLR) by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and usually turn into unutilized funds.
"Malaki rin ang mga FLR atsaka mga naisingit last year and this year ang pinakamalaki sa isang distrito lang P15 billion," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(These FLRs and insertions are huge amounts. This year, the biggest insertion in one district only was P15 billion.)
"Kung P20 billion kayang-kaya kunin ng DBM yun sa ibang ahensiya na hindi kayang magimplementa (ng budget). Lalo na sa unused. Alam natin taon-taon ang lalaki ng unused appropriations 'di naman nagagamit. Dun na lang kunin sa halip na panibagong pondo na naman."
(The DBM can get P20 billion in different agencies that can't implement their budget. Especially the unused funds. We know that there's a huge amount of unused appropriations yearly. Let's get the funds there instead of looking for another source.)
President Rodrigo Duterte can also use his emergency power to realign funds under the Bayanihan 2 law, according to Lacson.
"Maski naman walang emergency power, kung meron nang item para sa bakuna o COVID-19, under the Constitution pwede naman mag-realign ang Presidente basta ang budget within the executive department papunta sa item na kulang ang pondo," he added.
(Even if the President has no emergency power, under the Constitution, he can realign the budget within the executive department to another item that needs fund.)
The Philippines has so far received 7.540 million COVID-19 shots, majority of which are from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech.
Among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia, the Philippines aims to inoculate 70 million people or two-thirds of its population this year.
The Philippines has administered 2,065,235 doses of coronavirus vaccine as of May 4.