Palace to report gov't spending on COVID-19 response on Aug. 3

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2020 02:24 PM | Updated as of Jul 30 2020 09:00 PM

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-- Malacañang said Thursday it would report next week the government's spending for its response to the coronavirus pandemic that has infected over 85,000 people in the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he would present on Monday, August 3, the government's funds and spending for the pandemic response.

"Magkakaroon po tayo ng PowerPoint presentation on Monday kung magkano 'yung natanggap ng gobyerno at paano po ginastos 'yan para ipatunay po na wala pong tinatago ang gobyerno," he said during a Palace press briefing.

(We will have a PowerPoint presentation on Monday on how much has the government received and how it was spent to prove that the government is not hiding anything.)

Roque noted that during the effectivity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act--the law that granted President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to respond to the COVID-19 crisis--the Palace submitted weekly reports to Congress on its actions and spending.

"Wala pong tinatago ang Presidente at ang Malacañang. Lahat po ng gastos, lahat po ng pera na ginastos para sa COVID-19, napunta po 'yan para sa COVID-19 response ng gobyerno," the Palace spokesperson said.

(The President and Malacañang are not hiding anything. All of the expenses were for the COVID-19 response of the government.)

Last month, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado reported that government spending for the pandemic has reached P355 billion. Of the said amount, Avisado said P247.52 billion came from pooled savings while P96.7 billion came from unprogrammed appropriations.

SPECIAL AUDIT REQUEST

The Palace also welcomed the call of several senators for a special audit on the government's spending for the pandemic response.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier this week filed a resolution urging the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the pandemic spending before Congress debates on the proposed 2021 national budget.

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 Hontiveros.

"Dahil wala naman kami tinatago, we welcome the special audit, noting na talaga naman ia-audit po 'yan ng COA dahil ang COA po post-audit po ang kanilang ginagawa," Roque said.

(Because we are not hiding anything, we welcome the special audit, noting that there will be really an audit by COA because they conduct post-audit.)

COVID-19 policy chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also assured the public that funds meant for the pandemic response are really used to address the health crisis.

"Makakaasa po kayo na lahat ng salapi para sa COVID-19 ay talaga pong tinutuon sa pangangailangan natin," he said.

(You can be assured that funds for COVID-19 are really spent for our needs.)

The call for a special audit was also supported 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.