The Senate on Monday, November 23, adopted a resolution urging the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to release undisbursed funds totaling P83 billion.
Senate Resolution No. 574 urged for the funds to be used to help the victims of the recent typhoons and displaced workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Here we are, deliberating next year’s national budget, pero iyon pong bilyones na budget ng DSWD for this year, 2020, ni hindi pa nga napakikinabangan ng taumbayan. Napakasayang ng pondo…” Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the resolution’s author said.
(Here we are, deliberating next year’s national budget, but the people have still not benefited from the billions in the budget of the DSWD for this year, 2020. What a waste of funds…)
P70.6 billion earmarked for 4Ps
Senator Imee Marcos said around P70.6 billion of the undisbursed funds are programmed for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
“The DSWD wanted to clarify that this is the last tranche to be paid out to the 4Ps, P48.3 billion and then the supplemental feeding for P2.1 billion. There is also a livelihood component of P2.6 [billion] and a social pension for the aged of P3.9 [billion] as well as a P13.7 [billion] for the AICS [Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation],” Marcos said.
“That makes it more important that they release the funds to the 4Ps program, especially in the typhoon stricken areas. They need it already more than ever,” Zubiri added.
Realignment of funds
Senate President Vicente Sotto III asked if the president may earmark the undisbursed funds for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and realign the funds to the Department of Health.
Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto responded that, theoretically, the president may realign the undisbursed funds for other purposes.
The president may do this for any department that has savings at the end of the year, Recto added.
Senator Franklin Drilon said the power of the president to realign savings is under the constitution.
“If by December 19 there are funds out of Bayanihan 2 which are not disbursed, can it be used? My view is that it can be if the president realigns the savings for some other purpose. That is authorized under our constitution,” Drilon added.
“I believe, and this is only my opinion, if the president can do that and he does that for the vaccines that will be available surely by next year or even before the end of this year, that kind of amount will be very beneficial for the entire population of the country,” Sotto said. – Rappler.com