MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte assured the public on Tuesday that his administration would be transparent when it comes to the use of government funds as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Duterte, in a public address aired on state-run PTV-4, ensured that Covid-19 emergency funds would be directed toward stopping the contagion and returning to normalcy.
“Mabuti ‘yung alam ninyo na everything is transparent, lalo na sa bilyun-bilyon na ibinigay (It’s better that you are aware that everything is transparent, especially in the use of the billions [of pesos] given to us),” he said in a speech delivered late Tuesday night.
The government has received PHP275 billion in emergency funds to address the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
About PHP200 billion of the PHP275 billion will be used to help poor families sustain their needs amid the health crisis.
Duterte assured that all the funds spent for the Covid-19 response are accounted for and used in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
He, however, said irregularities in the spending of Covid-19 funds should be explained by local officials.
“I assure you, we will be able to account for it, except those (funds that) were malversed by the officials down dito sa (to the) local governments na nawala (and those funds that are unaccounted for), they have to answer for it,” Duterte said. “But otherwise, to the last centavo, naibigay na namin sa tao ang programa sa gobyerno (the fund has been channeled to the beneficiaries of the government program).”
The President made the remarks after about 23 village officials were slapped with criminal cases for alleged anomalies in the distribution of cash aid to low-income households.
The government has so far received a total of 318 complaints against the supposed graft and corrupt practices of erring local officials.
RA 11469, inked on March 24, allows Duterte to realign or reallocate the government’s national budget to combat Covid-19.
The law also requires Duterte to submit a weekly report to Congress to inform the public how the emergency funds for Covid-19 outbreak were spent.
Duterte said his government has so far been successful in addressing the pandemic.
He also attributed the fast response to government officials tasked to look for ways to arrest the spread of Covid-19.
“We have done a lot of things overnight. Mabilis tayong nakapag-marshal ng ating mga resources (We are able to quickly marshal our resources) and it’s because of the team that I felt was the most appropriate group of men who can respond to the emerging threat (to) national life,” Duterte said. (ia/PNA)