President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet realigned funds under the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 for efforts against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) even if Congress already gave him the power to do so, the son of former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said.
Luis Abad shared on Facebook Sunday (April 5) his analysis of Duterte’s first report to Congress on the implementation of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave the President authority to realign public funds for COVID-19 crisis.
Among the salient portions of the report are tables showing the budget of government agencies at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
A separate chart also showed the budget and unreleased appropriations for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), government owned- and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and local government units (LGUs).
Based on the report, Abad said the Department of Budget and Management has not yet cancelled any project or program under the 2020 national budget. However, it already identified the items whose budgets will be realigned in case additional funds are needed by the government.
“[I]f such need arises, they have identified these unreleased appropriations as the first in line: 145B support to GOCCs, 1B to MMDA, 28B share of LGUs in National Taxes, 27B LGU Support Fund, and 7B to BARMM. Back to our metaphor, DBM is saying no changes to the water pipe plan as approved by Congress so far, but they’ve already listed down which pipes will be the first to be moved if necessary,” he explained.
Abad said the upside to the President’s report is proof he’s not being “reckless” in exercising his power to realign the budget. But it’s not all good, he added.
“Negative, because the lack of any realignment at all shows that we’re not spending money as fast as we probably should given the state of emergency, we’re still operating on a budget planned under normal times,” Abad said.
The former DBM Secretary’s son said he’s looking forward to reading Duterte’s next report to Congress, due on Monday (April 6), for details on the disbursement of funds for health workers’ needs and the cash aid program for families affected by COVID-19 crisis.