Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies on Wednesday filed a resolution calling on the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry into the utilization of funds appropriated under Bayanihan 1 and 2 after learning that billions of pesos in the two stimulus packages have remained unreleased and unutilized.
“Basically we want to inquire into Bayanihan 1 and 2 and use that inquiry also in the discussion (in) Bayanihan 3,” Cayetano told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday in Taguig.
“(We want) to see which programs were effective and which were not and determine how good or how bad the implementation was. Which programs were funded and which were not? If they were effective, do we legislate more of such programs? If not effective, why weren’t they? We must also propose alternatives,” he said.
“Sa madaling sabi, kung ano ang tama sa Bayanihan 1 and 2 kailangan nasa Bayanihan 3; kung anong mali, dapat i-correct,” he added.
(In other words, whatever was right in Bayanihan 1 and 2 should be included in Bayanihan 3. Whatever was wrong should be corrected.)
Cayetano filed House Resolution No. 1731 along with Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano, Camarines 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, Batangas 2nd District Rep Raneo Abu, Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez, ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, and Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio ‘Kuya’ Sy-Alvarado.
In filing the resolution, the lawmakers said immediate relief and mitigation of the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic “are paramount during this time when our countrymen are in dire need of social assistance.”
“The necessity and importance of reports on the utilization of funds cannot be over-emphasized,” they said.
The resolution says based on the latest report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee under the Bayanihan 1, around P1.5 billion that had been allocated for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) or Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) for Non-4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) “has not been disbursed.”
According to the same report, around P500 million allotted for the implementation of SAP under the Bayanihan 1 has not been disbursed, the resolution adds.
Cayetano and his allies noted that for Bayanihan 2, the DBM “failed to show the utilization rate by majority of the agencies concerned” in its report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on January 4, 2021, which was the latest and final report submitted to Congress.
“It is necessary to determine the utilization rate of implementing agencies not only to see how they performed, but also to help streamline the process of budget legislation, identify and solve problems in the budget execution stage, and strengthen the government’s ability to deliver services,” the resolution says.
The resolution cites the DSWD as having unused funds amounting to P75 billion from its regular budget and P6.7 billion from allocations in Bayanihan 1 and 2.
The Department of Education (DepEd), for its part, was allotted P4 billion for the implementation of Digital Education, Information Technology (IT), and Digital Infrastructures and Alternative Learning Modalities but “only issued its implementing guidelines on 16 December 2020 and the program is yet to be implemented.”
“The ability of government agencies to implement projects, activities, and programs reflects on its ability to utilize appropriations, or its absorptive capacity,” the resolution says, adding the government “must implement the budget in the most prudent, efficient, and timely manner possible, especially in times of public emergencies.”
The resolution says the hampered and obstructed implementation of much needed government programs during this time of need “results in the delayed resumption of the economy and delayed delivery of aid to millions of retrenched or displaced workers, closed micro, small, and medium enterprises, and disadvantaged countrymen suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”