Senators seek special audit on coronavirus funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 29 2020 08:36 AM | Updated as of Jul 29 2020 08:50 AM

Residents line up outside a covered court in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City hoping to receive the cash assistance under the DSWD’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) on May 12, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Several senators are urging the Commission on Audit (COA) to look into all government spending related to a law that gave President Rodrigo Duterte wider powers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Allegations of overpricing have marred the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that allowed to Duterte to realign billions of pesos in funds and granted exemptions to the bidding process, said Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Hontiveros filed Tuesday a resolution urging COA to conduct a special audit on the pandemic spending before Congress debates on the proposed 2021 national budget.

The resolution cited government’s purchase of automated nucleic acid extractors for P4 million against P1.75 million purchased by the private sector; personal protective equipment sets of P1,800 when the market price ranges from P400 to P1,000; and the importation of test kits from China and Korea compared to cheaper Philippine-made units.

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

“Patuloy na sumusulpot ang mga ulat na diumano overpriced na procurements,” Hontiveros told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

(Reports of alleged overpriced procurements continue to crop up.)

“Napakalaking pera talaga. Saan po ito napunta at bakit ganito lang ang mga resulta natin na parang nagiging champion tayo sa dami ng COVID-19 incidents sa ating bansa,” she added.

(The funds were huge. Where did it go and why are results like this, in which we seem to be a champion on the tally of COVID-19 incidents?)

The resolution for the special audit was also signed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Finance Committee Chair Sonny Angara, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and minority Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, and Leila de Lima.

The Senate on Wednesday approved the Bayanihan 2 bill on final reading. The measure allots P140 billion for test kits, cash aid and other pandemic programs.