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7 senators urge COA to review Bayanihan Law spending

A resolution signed by seven senators urging the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special review of the government’s spending under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act has been filed in the Senate.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Risa Hontiveros, and six other senators, made the call through Senate Resolution No. 479, urging the COA to conduct a special audit of the funds spent as the government’s response to the COVID-19 under the Republic Act No. 11469.

Senators who signed the resolution includes Hontiveros, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Francis Pangilinan and Leila de Lima.

“Congress early this year, through the Bayanihan Act, gave the government comprehensive powers, including the power to re-align and allocate billions of taxpayers’ money to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Kailangan nating malaman kung ang tulong ba ay napunta para sa dapat tulungan (We need to know if the funds were given to those who needed assistance),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

Hontiveros pointed out that Congress rushed to pass the law last March to allow government to swiftly procure commodities, facilities, utilities and services deemed necessary for its COVID-19 response with exemptions from bidding requirements under the government procurement act.

However, she said various procurements made in relation to COVID-19 have been marred by allegations of overpricing.

The resolution specifically sought a review on the government’s purchase of automated nucleic acid extractors for P4-million against P1.75-million purchased by the private sector and the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets of P 1,800 when market price for PPEs ranges from P400 to P1,000.

The resolution also urged state auditors to review the importation of more expensive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits from China and Korea instead of cheaper Philippine-made ones.

Senators also cited the purchase of allegedly overpriced PPE by the Procurement Services of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) “while many health workers and frontliners have fallen ill from the lack of adequate protective gear.”

“Sapat ba ang naging pondo para sa mga PPE? At kung sapat, bakit parang hindi napunta sa mga frontliners? (are the funds adequate for the purchase of PPEs? And if it is, why does it seem that frontliners are not benefitting from it?)” Hontiveros asked.

“This health crisis should not allow us to relax our accountability measures. The people should be able to trust the government that no one is lining their pockets with taxpayers’ money,” she stressed.

The same resolution also urged COA to present its findings before Congress starts deliberation on the proposed 2021 national budget.

“We are anticipating massive allocations to address health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19. It is of critical importance that there be audit findings to guide legislators in our exercise of the power of the purse,” Hontiveros said.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/29/7-senators-urge-coa-to-review-bayanihan-law-spending/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-senators-urge-coa-to-review-bayanihan-law-spending)

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