MANILA – After the national government announced that it will grant a one-time “Bayanihan” financial aid to cities and municipalities equivalent to their one-month Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has appealed that the same be given to provincial local government units (PLGUs) as well.
Go proposed that the amount can be equivalent to half of a province’s one-month IRA to allow them to respond more effectively to the increasing needs of their constituents amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It would be beneficial to the people if PLGUs are also given additional funding to better respond to the needs of their constituents,” Go said.
Go said that PLGUs ensure the readiness of their respective provincial hospitals to handle the Covid-19 cases.
“Marami sa mga patients natin ay sa provincial hospitals po unang dinadala (Many of our patients are brought first to provincial hospitals). It is the PLGUs that pay for the operations of these hospitals,” he said.
The appeal came after Go’s recommendation to release a one-time ‘Bayanihan’ financial assistance to cities and municipalities was approved.
PLGUs are not entitled to the recently approved measure to avoid redundancy since they share the same constituents with municipalities and cities under their jurisdictions.
Go, however, noted that “even an amount equivalent to half of a PLGU’s one-month IRA” can go a long way in enhancing the capabilities of provinces to respond to the crisis, especially in equipping their provincial hospitals amid the growing number of patients in their localities.
“Huwag na nating hayaan na kumalat pa ang virus. Ihanda na natin ang mga probinsya kahit sa pinaka-malalayong mga lugar. I-equip na natin ang kanilang mga ospital. Dagdagan na rin natin ang mga testing centers and quarantine facilities,” Go said.
(Let’s not allow the virus to spread. Let’s prepare our provinces even in far-flung places. Let’s equip their hospitals. Let’s also put up more testing centers and quarantine facilities.)
In a letter, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, the umbrella organization of all leagues of local government units, through their National President and Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua, appealed for a similar grant for PLGUs as to what was recently approved for cities and municipalities.
The group said provincial governments, as the highest form of government in the sub-national level, play a vital role in the Covid-19 situation as managers of the health care provider networks, according to the Universal Health Care Law.
Go said, aside from equipping provincial hospitals, the additional funds, if granted, can also be used by PLGUs to identify and ensure that isolation units in their areas are fully equipped; distribute relief goods and other basic necessities on top of what the national government is providing; secure borders through checkpoints with equipped uniformed personnel; provide transportation and other needs to front liners and health workers.
The funds can also be used to guarantee the unimpeded movement of goods and commodities; ensure that the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act Act” and all executive issuances related to Covid-19 are strictly implemented, and perform other functions strictly related to the Covid-19 situation.
As a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee overseeing the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Go reminded LGUs that if their appeal for additional funding is granted, they should utilize the funds properly based on the intended purpose and in a manner that upholds transparency and accountability.
“Sa panahong ito, konsensya niyo na lamang ang tututok sa inyo. Siguraduhin natin na magamit ang pondo ng tama, walang masayang, at maramdaman ng mga tao kahit sa malalayong lugar ang tulong mula sa gobyerno,” Go said.
(During these trying times, your conscience would be your guide. Let us ensure that the funds are properly spent, nothing must go to waste so that the people, even those in remote places, would benefit the aid from the government.) (PR)