Gov’t can tap contingency funds to provide pandemic aid: ex-Health Secretary

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2021 09:49 AM

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MANILA – Government agencies can use their contingency funds to provide pandemic aid to poor Filipinos amid tightened COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, a former health secretary said Wednesday.

Former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said government agencies can use funds saved for emergencies as cash assistance for needy Filipinos.

“Actually in government, you have like contingency funding, like you set aside a certain amount of your budget, regular budget for emergencies. And I think that’s what the DBM is now looking into as a pocket for additional funding for ayuda,” Ubial said n an interview on ANC’s “Rundown."

“It’s not exactly savings but many of the government agencies actually include those contingencies in their budgets so they can spare some amount for the ayuda that will be distributed and unplanned emergencies like this one.”

Citing her experience with aid distribution in the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda, Ubial said it is better that aid be given in the form of cash so it can be distributed quickly.

“So I think the better way, if you’re immediately needing to disburse or distribute funds and support is really to make it in cash. And then allow the recipients to choose what goods and products they need because I’m sure some of them already have stockpile,” she said.

Ubial also agreed with Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos’ suggestion of house-to-house distribution of aid to avoid “superspreader” events.

“Because it’s per community, it’s not a big logistical effort. Because you just walk to your neighbor or you ride a bike. You don’t have to like, rent a truck to bring the goods to the other people needing those food products.”

“So it’s a neighborhood and microcosm response to this redistribution of food,” she said.