MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called for an audit on how the executive branch spent public funds and how special powers were used to boost the government's response to the coronavirus crisis, saying that Congress "surrendered" its power of the purse to the President but has yet to see results.
Despite the enactment of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act in March, the Philippines failed to meet its health and economic relief targets, Hontiveros said in a privilege speech.
"We should have established sufficient infrastructure and mustered enough human resources to adequately respond to this health crisis. However, this is clearly not the case," she said.
"Apat na buwan na ang nakakaraan. Bilyon-bilyon ang pondo na nasa kamay ng pamahalaan at malawak ang kapangyarihan na ibinigay natin sa Pangulo pero hanggang ngayon, wala pa rin tayong pinangako nilang 30,000 tests per day. Hindi rin malinaw kung na-flatten na ba ang curve ng pandemiya," she said.
(Four months have passed. The government holds billions of funds and the President has wide-ranging powers, but until now, they have yet to deliver the promised 30,000 COVID tests per day. It is also unclear if we have already flattened the pandemic's curve.)
Hontiveros also criticized the Department of Health for purchasing allegedly overpriced personal protective equipment (PPEs) and testing kits.
"Paano natin mapagkakatiwalaan ang gobyerno na gamitin sa maayos ang pera ng bayan kung may mga taong walang konsensiyang pinagkakakitaan ang pandemyang ito?" she said.
The government should address "major flaws" in the system as the Philippines eases its quarantine policies and shifts to a new normal.
"Health and economic safeguards must be put in place before we send them out to what is now called the new normal. Let our rallying cry be: Save lives, save jobs," she said.