The Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) releases for COVID-19 response amounted to P355.1 billion to date, with dole-outs given away to vulnerable sectors accounting for the bulk of the money.
In a June 9 report, the DBM said P199.9 billion of the allotments released so far went to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which is in charge of disbursing the cash grants to poor households and vulnerable sectors under the social amelioration program of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) got P7.6 billion, while the Department of Finance (DOF) received a bigger P88.5 billion. The DOF and Dole gave away relief to displaced domestic and foreign workers.
As for the Department of Health, P48.2 billion were released as of this week on top of P400 million to the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.
The other agencies given funds for COVID-19 response included the Department of Agriculture, P8.5 billion; the Department of the Interior and Local Government, P641.1 million; the Department of National Defense, P974.6 million; the Department of Foreign Affairs, P5.1 million; the Department of Trade and Industry, P203 million; the Department of Science and Technology, P52.2 million; and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, P500,000.
Of the total releases, P246.6 billion—P215.9 billion from this year’s P4.1-trillion national budget and P30.7 billion from last year’s continuing appropriations—came from discontinued government programs, activities and projects whose allotments were instead realigned to COVID-19 response.
Regular agency budgets amounted to P10.2 billion while special purpose funds—calamity funds, contingent funds and unprogrammed appropriations—accounted for P98.2 billion.
The Bayanihan law empowers the President to reallocate budget items in order to better respond to the health and socioeconomic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In turn, budgets of infrastructure, education and defense agencies suffered big cuts.
During a Senate hearing last month, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado explained that the budget reductions were inflicted on programs, activities and projects whose respective implementation had yet to start and could be postponed to next year. —Ben O. de Vera
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