Robredo to Duterte gov’t: Let public monitor pandemic loans, donations online

Vice President Leni Robredo urged the Duterte government to create an online portal where Filipinos can easily monitor the funds loaned by the Philippines as well as donations to the country to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

This was among the Vice President’s key recommendations in an 8-page letter she sent to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on July 1, a copy of which her office publicized on Monday, July 20. 

Robredo’s policy recommendations range from how to make budget data more transparent to specific ways to help students, parents, and teachers adapt to distance learning.

The Vice President crafted it upon consultation with multiple policy experts, members of the academe, and medical professionals.

Under budget utilization, the Vice President suggested President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to create an online portal where Filipinos can regularly monitor the loans being taken out by the government. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Duterte’s new COVID-19 loans: Need we worry?)

Robredo said an online platform should also be created to monitor all funds donated to the Philippine government. 

So far, the Philippines has borrowed up to P388 billion from various institutions to augment its response to COVID-19, which has so far infected over 67,0000 in the country.

Robredo said in her weekly radio show on Sunday, July 19, that these online portals have to be specific on how and where these funds are being used given multiple accusations of irregular spending during the pandemic. 

“Kapag tiningnan mo iyong Facebook, ang daming accusations, ang daming accusations ng corruption. Ang daming accusation na hindi naman kailangan mangutang pero nangutang. Pero iyong suggestion ko sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases), bakit hindi gumawa ng online portal na nandoon lahat?” the Vice President said. 

(If you look at Facebook, there are so many accusations about corruption. There are a lot of accusations that we didn’t need to loan money but we still did it. But my suggestion to the IATF is, why not make an online portal where everything can be found?)

“Nandoon lahat, para iyong tao alam niya kung saan siya magche-check. Alam niya kung ano iyong datos, naiiwasan iyong accusations na baseless,” she added.

(Everything will be there, so that the people would know where to check. Because they know the data, we can avoid making accusations that are baseless.)

The Vice President said local government units must also regularly report the status of their COVID-19 funds, so the national government can identify which localities need more support.

She also wants the Development Budget Coordination Committee to release detailed Budgets of Expenditure and Sources of Financing tables for COVID-19, similar to what is being done for the annual national budget.

“This is critical for the public to understand the actual cash position and expenses of the government for COVID-19 response,” said Robredo.

The Vice President earlier said the Philippines is now playing catch-up in its COVID-19 response because the Duterte government “did not act urgently” when the pandemic hit the country.

Still, Robredo has spent the past months helping fill the gaps her office identified in the government’s response to the pandemic. (READ: 'Not time to keep score': Robredo focuses on frontliners, not politics)

These include assisting frontliners by raising millions worth of funds to provide them with personal protective equipment sets, test kits, food packs, dormitories for those who have no place to sleep, and even a free shuttle service when the government was not yet finished establishing its own transport system for frontliners.

Read a full copy of Robredo's letter to the Presidential Spokesperson below:

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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