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account_balanceMetro News account_circleMichael Lim chat_bubble_outline0 Comments

Only 15 percent of funds given to local government units to support their measures against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been liquidated as of June 25, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the Bayanihan Act, the president can discontinue programs, projects, or activities of any agency of the executive department in the 2019 and 2020 national budgets and use the savings to augment allocation for items related to pandemic response. Among the priority items for fund augmentation are allocations to LGUs.

The budget department has released P30.82 billion to fund the one-time financial assistance to municipalities and cities. Local Budget Circular No. 125 released last April states that the fund shall be subject to existing procurement, budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations, which include the submission of liquidation reports.

In his 14th report to Congress on the implementation of Bayanihan Act, Duterte said as of June 25, 275 LGUs have submitted fund utilization reports that liquidated P5.493 billion. The amount only represented 14.84% of total grants released to local governments.

Bayanihan Act expired last June 25 but any unused amount from the assistance given to LGUs will only be returned to the National Treasury after the lifting of the state of calamity. Duterte placed the Philippines under a state of calamity last March because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Data submitted by Duterte to Congress showed that P3.13 billion of the aid given to LGUs was used for food aid and other relief goods while P548.13 million was spent for hospital equipment and supplies. About P265.52 million was used for food, transportation and accommodation expenses while P239.38 million was spent to buy personal protective equipment.

Some P349.3 million was spent for other necessary COVID-19 programs, activities, and projects while P280.07 million was used to buy medicines and vitamins. Local governments also spent P311.28 million for construction, repair, lease, and rental of additional spaces and buildings to accommodate COVID-19 patients and persons under monitoring or investigation.

About P63.79 million was used to buy disinfectants, sprayers, disinfection tents, and other disinfection supplies and misting equipment.

About P32.97 million was used to buy or rent tents and spaces for temporary shelters of the homeless while P237.66 million went to equipment, reagents and kits for COVID-19 testing. Local governments spent P30.35 million for the operation of stand-alone and mobile testing laboratories and nearly P3 million for training of personnel tasked to conduct COVID-19 tests.

In the same report, Duterte said 17.65 million households have received aid under the first tranche of the P205-billion social amelioration program (SAP) as of June 26.

The figure is equivalent to 98.35 percent of the 17.95 million intended beneficiaries of the program. More than 295,000 households are still waiting for the emergency subsidies. A total of P99.8 billion has been distributed to the beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, 1.3 million households have received assistance under the second tranche of SAP. 

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