MANILA - The Department of Budget and Management has only released 3.5 percent of the P140-billion assistance under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), about 2 months before the Philippines' second COVID-19 aid package expires, the Senate said in a recent report.
The DBM has released P4.41 billion to 4 agencies as of October 20, while crucial departments like the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have yet to receive their special allocations, the Senate said in its comments on the executive branch's first Bayanihan 2 report to Congress.
"We urgently call on the DBM to immediately issue the necessary Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) to all implementing agencies, even pending the issuance of their respective guidelines," the Senate document read.
According to the report, these agencies received the following amounts from the Bayanihan 2 as of October 20:
- Department of the Interior and Local Government (P2.52 billion)
- Office of Civil Defense (P855.19 million)
- Bureau of Treasury (P215.48 million)
- Department of Foreign Affairs (P820 million)
The report noted that the Office of the President has yet to release funds for the following departments:
- Department of Health (P20.58 billion)
- Department of Agriculture (P11.63 billion)
- Department of Labor and Employment (P8 billion)
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (P6 billion)
"The report is silent about whether several provisions of Bayanihan 2 are already being implemented," the Senate noted.
The Bayanihan 2 will lapse on December 19 when Congress adjourns for a month-long break for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Aside from urging the DBM to quickly release the funds, the senators also urged the DSWD to submit a detailed report on how the agency plans "to help the poor by way of effectively spending the multi-billion fund" given to the department.
"It has been 3 months since Bayanihan 1 lapsed, and a month's implementation of Bayanihan 2, there has yet to be a concrete and detailed plan to assist our poor and low-income households," the senators' comments read.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado earlier guaranteed the release of the P140-billion COVID-19 aid package to various government agencies.
"It will be released as soon as possible. Sinisigurado lang po ng Office of the President na kinakailangan talaga ang mga pondong iri-release," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
(The Office of the President is just ensuring that the funds that will be released are needed.)