Pangilinan to DBM: Slow Bayanihan fund release means slow help to COVID-affected and slow economic recovery

THE slow release of the billions of pesos of Bayanihan funds will not only delay the assistance to individuals and sectors impacted by the pandemic but will also retard economic recovery, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Sunday.

Pangilinan expressed dismay over the report of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that it has so far released only P92.3 billion out of the P165.5 billion stimulus fund under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

“Nakakalungkot ito dahil nandyan na ang pondo pero hindi pa rin maramdaman ng mga taong apektado ng pandemya (This is unfortunate because while the funds are available, they could not immediately be felt by the people reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic),” Pangilinan said.

“Parang di ramdam ng malapagong na galaw ng gobyerno ang matinding pangangailangan ng mga Pilipino (The urgency of the need of the Filipinos does not seem to match the sluggish movement of the government),” he added.

Congress passed the Bayanihan 2 law and funded it with P165 billion for social amelioration, credit facility, aid to displaced workers, including public utility vehicle drivers, among others.

“Kung makakatayo na ang ating mga kababayan, makakatayo na rin ang ating bansa (If our people are able to recover economically, our country will also be able to recover economically),” Pangilinan said.

The DBM must release all the funds under the Bayanihan 2 as the appropriation authority under the law expires on December 19, 2020.

The senator asked how the DBM plans to spend almost P70 billion with a month left. He said the programs being implemented under Bayanihan 2 should be examined to determine if they are yielding the optimum results for the people.

Government departments and local government units should also have the absorptive capacity to carry out major programs and dispense money efficiently, Pangilinan said.