MANILA – The government still has sufficient funds to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak, Malacañang assured the public on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance, saying the government is not in a hurry to ask Congress for a supplemental budget to augment the money spent for Covid-19 response efforts.
“Sa ngayon, hindi pa tayo humihingi ng supplemental budget sa Kongreso. Sapat pa po ang pondo natin as is (We are currently not asking the Congress to approve a supplemental budget [to combat Covid-19]. We still have enough funds),” Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III bared on April 23 that the government has so far spent PHP352.7 billion amid the country’s fight against Covid-19.
In his April 27 press briefing, Roque said the government has only PHP77 billion available funds to stop the further transmission of the new coronavirus.
Roque said there is nothing to worry about because the government is on top of the situation despite the threat posed by Covid-19.
“Hindi lang po natin alam kung hanggang kailan kasi itong problema sa Covid, hanggang walang bakuna at walang gamot. (We just do not know how long the problem about Covid-19 would last so long as there is no vaccine and no cure). But for now, we’re okay,” he said.
Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Duterte has the special power to realign funds in the 2020 national budget to stop the contagion.
In a televised public address on April 23, the President said he might ask Congress to approve a supplemental budget to boost the funding for Covid-19 response.
Roque said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado has yet to give the exact amount of supplemental budget the government would need to address the health crisis in the country.
“The deadline was April 30 and I inquired from Secretary Wendel Avisado kung meron nang sumatotal (if they already have a sum total of the [proposed supplemental budget]),” he said. “For now, wala pa po silang hinahandang (they have yet to prepare the proposed) supplemental budget. Okay pa po (The situation is still okay), as is where is.”
Duterte has extended until May 15 the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in areas considered high risk for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, other areas across the country are under a general community quarantine.
Covid-19 infections in the Philippines has so far jumped to 9,485 with 623 deaths. Some 1,315 patients have already recovered from the disease. (IA/PNA)