Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson criticized the government under President Rodrigo Duterte for its request asking for an extra budget for COVID-19 response, while billions of funds remain unused from the 2019 national budget.
Lacson noted said some P1.3 trillion remains unused from the last year’s budget at the end of the third quarter. This prompted the government to extend some of its allocations to December 31, 2020.
Approximately P989 billion comes from the executive branch, in particular from agencies that didn’t spend their budgets entirely.
“May savings na unused sa 2019. Dapat diba pwede gamitin yan? Extended naman ang validity. So pwede sila kumuha roon, mas dapat nga kumuha roon kasi hindi talaga nagamit ng ahensya yan,” Lacson said in an interview with DZBB.
“Bakit tayo kakapusin? Hindi ko maintindihan ito, dapat maipaliwanag nila kung magkaroon ng oversight hearing tungkol dito,” the senator added.
Lacson requested a clarification from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Finance (DOF), and the National Treasurer.
DOF Secretary Carlos Domínguez III revealed earlier that the government had already spent P352.7 billion on efforts against COVID-19.