MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte has given the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) authority to release pandemic funds previously stalled in his office, Malacañang said Tuesday, following criticism from some senators.
Several Cabinet aides who attended budget hearings in the Senate earlier said that some funds under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) have yet to be given to the agriculture, labor and tourism sectors some 2 months before the measure expires.
"Binigyan niya (Duterte) po ng delegated authority si DBM Secretary [Wendel] Avisado para mag-approve na ng release," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters. "Hindi na po iyan dadaan sa Office of the Executive Secretary."
(President Duterte gave DBM Secretary Avisado delegated authority to approve the [fund] release. It won't have to go through the Office of the Executive Secretary.)
Avisado approved the release of some P51.807 billion in funds broken down as follows:
- P100 million for shared facilities of the trade department
- P5 billion to augment the National Disaster Risk Reduction and - Management Framework (NDRRMF) fund
- P8 billion for the labor department's programs
- P6 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development
- P11.632 billion for the agriculture department's "Plant, Plant, Plant" program
- P20.575 billion for health-related responses
- P500 million for local government support
"Lahat po iyan nai-release ng DBM today," said Roque.
(All of that was released by the DBM today)
Bayanihan 2 is the Philippines' second COVID-19 emergency measure which authorizes the government to spend P140 billion to help sectors affected by the pandemic. The law also earmarks P25 billion in standby funds should the government need more money to finance COVID-19-related projects.