Budget Watch

Duterte gov’t refutes lawmakers: No underspending of Bayanihan 2 funds

Dwight de Leon
Duterte gov’t refutes lawmakers: No underspending of Bayanihan 2 funds

FINDING CASES. The Quezon City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) tests residents of Brgy. Old Balara against COVID-19 after lining up at a food distribution event on May 25, 2021.

Rappler

'According to the DBM, we have already released P660 billion. What they are referring to as underspending is P6 billion, or 1% of the total,' Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez says

President Rodrigo Duterte took a swipe at lawmakers for lamenting the loss of billions of pesos worth of unused Bayanihan 2 funds, and even singled out two senators who were planning to run for president and vice president in 2022.

“I’ve been hearing from senators [Panfilo] Lacson and, I forgot the other, [Vicente] Sotto [III], that we are underspending in Bayanihan. Is this true?” Duterte asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during his televised meeting with government officials on Saturday, July 26. 

Sotto and Lacson were not publicly vocal about the unused coronavirus relief funds, but some opposition lawmakers have indeed expressed frustration over the Congress and the President’s failure to pass a law to extend its validity.

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Dominguez, replying to Duterte, downplayed the unspent budget.

“According to the [Department of Budget and Management], we have already released P660 billion. What they are referring to as ‘underspending’ is P6 billion, or 1% of the total,” Dominguez said.

“The one thing very wrong with Congress is that they are not listening when you are talking,” Duterte replied.

The P6 billion mentioned by Dominguez on Saturday was lower than the P9 billion announced by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on June 30, and much lower than the computation of P18.4 billion released by lawmakers.

That P18.4 billion budget was allocated for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and for health workers, among others, lawmakers said.

Unspent Bayanihan 2 funds woul be returned to the national treasury.

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– Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.