By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed Senate Resolution No. 710 urging the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit on the P570 billion expenditure under the Bayanihan Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) and the Bayanihan to Recover Act (Bayanihan 2), as the country’s health system remains overwhelmed due to the effects of COVID-19.
“Suko na ba agad ang administrasyon na makibaka laban sa COVID-19? Imbes na umamin sa mga pagkakamali, tahasan pang sinabi na wala na daw silang magagawa at sinisi pa ang mamamayan. Bilyun-bilyon na umano ang ginagastos mula sa pera ng taumbayan, pero hindi naman naiibsan ang pagdurusa ng mga Pilipino,”she said.
“Government must take a hard look in the mirror by doing a special audit of its financial decisions more than a year into the pandemic,” the senator added.
Hontiveros also pressed Malacanang to ‘faithfully’ release the financial reports of the expenditure of Bayanihan 2 as required by the law.
“Section 14 of Bayanihan 2 requires the Office of the President to release a report every first Monday of the month,” she said citing the law.
She added that it was concerning that the last financial report released to the public was on January 4, 2021, despite the ‘overwhelming’ need to fund programs amid the spike in cases soon after.
“Kung kailan matindi ang pagsirit ng mga kaso ng COVID-19, saka naman hindi makita ng mga Pilipino kung saan na napupunta ang pera natin. Paano natin mapopondohan nang maayos ang mga gamot, ayuda, pasilidad, at programang panligtas-buhay kung hindi natin alam kung alin-alin ang natugunan na at alin ang hindi pa? Magkano pa ang natitira? Iresponsable at iligal na hindi isapubliko ang mga financial reports sa panahon ng krisis,” she remarked.
This is the second resolution for a special audit on COVID funds that Hontiveros has filed.
The senator said it was “crucial” to evaluate these expenses as budget deliberations draw closer, adding that government funds must be appropriated to the ‘dire needs’ of the country.
The audit, she said, will help in responding to bottlenecks and inefficiencies are proven to be ‘fatal’.
Currently, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the country has spent over P570 billion on the COVID-19 response, which Hontiveros says has yet to be felt on the ground.
“Hanggang ngayon, napakarami pa ring health workers ang hindi nakakatanggap ng hazard pay, maraming pamilya ang hindi pa nakakatanggap ng ayuda, at kulang pa rin ang mga health facilities. Kung tama nga ang paggastos ng P570 billion, bakit may mga pasyente pa rin na karton ang hinihigaan sa labas ng mga ospital?” she said.
“Dapat binabantayan ng gobyerno ang buwis na patuloy na binabayaran ng mga Pilipino sa gitna ng kanilang paghihirap. Karapatan nating malaman kung napapakinabangan nga ba ang bilyon-bilyong pondo na nakalaan at inutang para sa COVID-19. I ask my colleagues in the Senate to adopt the resolution immediately. It is our duty as legislators to exercise our power of the purse judiciously,” Hontiveros concluded. (AI/MTVN)