The Duterte administration has released a total of P389.06 billion to fund government efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Filipinos as of August 28.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado gave a rough breakdown of where the funds went in a presentation he made on Tuesday, September 1, during a Malacañang press briefing.
The lion's share of the funds went to emergency financial assistance to poor Filipinos and displaced workers.
"Most of the COVID-19 budget went to programs providing assistance to our low-income households, displaced formal and informal workers, distressed OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), and affected farmers and fisherfolk," said Avisado in Filipino.
P211.6 billion or 54% went to the Social Amelioration Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). This program includes the distribution of P5,000 to P8,000 a month to families in areas placed under lockdown due to coronavirus.
The second COVID-19 program to get the biggest chunk of funds was the Small Business Wage Subsidy Program of the Department of Finance (DOF) and Social Security System (SSS).
A total of P51 billion was released for this measure, which provided a wage subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 a month for employees of small businesses forced to stop operations during lockdown.
Department of Health (DOH) programs were given the 3rd biggest portion – P48.98 billion. According to Avisado, the funds were used for the hazard pay of public health workers, purchase of personal protective equipment, and testing kits.
Here's the breakdown of the P389 billion in releases:
Avisado was unable to report detailed information on procurements for COVID-19 undertaken by the government during the press briefing.
Duterte had previously ordered government agencies to give the public a "monthly" report on who bidded for COVID-19 contracts and who won them.
Avisado said his understanding of the presidential order was that the public should be informed of the names of winning bidders and their background so that citizens can be more vigilant about possible corruption in the procurements.
He said he would coordinate with other departments to ensure compliance with Duterte's order.
"Rest assured that that is being done by our implementing departments and agencies and we will make sure that we will make a follow-up on this because this is the President's directive," said Avisado.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.