Duterte says release of ₱200-billion COVID-19 aid fund to go through process

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) — The release of the ₱200-billion aid fund for the COVID-19 pandemic has to go through a government process, said President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte said ‪Friday night‬ in an unannounced address, that the fund meant to support “the most affected” in the COVID-19 crisis, hasn’t been released due to government processes.

He also said that there is no way they are corrupting the money from the aid.

“Hindi namang totoo na kaltasan namin. Hindi kami ang humahawak ang pera. In two days nandito na. Mag process lang ng papel. ‘yang ₱200 billion na yan, proseso ‘yan,” Duterte said.

[Translation: It is not true that we deduct from that money. We do not have it. In two days, it will arrive, papers just have to be processed. It is a process to get the ₱200 billion-worth of funds.]

He added that government employees, especially those from the Commission on Audit, are afraid to hurry the process, for they may risk the prospect of being jailed.

“Kaya careful ako. Wala akong sinabi sa LGU. Wala din akong sinabi sa barangay captain,” he added.

[Translation: That’s why I am careful. I am not saying anything to the LGUs and barangay captains.]

Duterte ordered Social Welfare Department Secretary Rolando Bautista to add the COVID-19 aid to DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

The national government has allotted a total of ₱200-billion-worth of aid for low-income households, farmers, and fisherfolk, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act on March 24, which grants him additional powers to tackle the COVID-19 crisis in the country. This includes the power to reshuffle funds in this year’s budget to provide assistance to the poor.

Under this law, Duterte should deliver a weekly report to Congress every Monday, where he would detail what the government has done in the past week to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.