Duterte requires gov't agencies to report COVID-19 spending monthly

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President Rodrigo Duterte during his taped address to the nation

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte told Cabinet officials to account for fund releases for COVID-19 response programs under their respective agencies.

"Upon my oath of office, 'wag kayong mag-alala. Lahat ng pera na nagastos dito sa away ng COVID ay maa-account [do not worry. All money spent in battling COVID-19 will be accounted for]," Duterte said in his Monday night speech which aired Tuesday morning.

"I will hold myself responsible for this solemn duty of answering for and in behalf of the Executive department of all the funds that were spent in the fight against COVID," he added.

The government has so far spent ₱376.6 billion for coronavirus response measures, according to the Budget Department.

RELATED: Gov’t must borrow more funds for COVID-19 response, lawmaker says

Duterte then ordered the national COVID-19 task force and all other departments to disclose how funds are spent, including the intended purpose of all other remaining funds every month — the same requirement sought under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

The President initially wanted a report every two weeks. He also told public offices to publish all procurement proposals in newspapers.

He then defended his choice of placing former military officials to head agencies, including chief COVID-19 response implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr.: "I am sure na 'yung mga taong iniwanan ko ng pera... they are military men na nakilala ko noon pa, matagal nang panahon. Alam ko they are a bunch of honest persons. 'Wag kayong mag-alala, ikukwenta namin ang pera lahat."

[Trasnslation: I am sure that these people with whom I entrusted the money with... they are military men I have known for a long time. I know they are a bunch of honest persons. Do not worry, we will account for all the money.]

The other retired military officers who are part of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

READ: UN sounds alarm on PH's 'highly militarized' lockdown response

Duterte also appealed to Congress to install all possible safeguards to ensure that the newly-ratified Bayanihan 2 Act will be safe from corruption. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III added that various stimulus measures should be directly released to banks and e-wallet accounts of beneficiaries to avoid handling of cash and possible leakages.

The President also told Filipinos not to confuse COVID-19 spending with issues surrounding PhilHealth.

"'Yung PhilHealth ang dapat imbestigahan, dapat i-prosecute lahat, dapat ikulong. Itong pinag-uusapan ay hindi ho PhilHealth, pera ito sa COVID [It is PhilHealth which needs to be investigated, officials involved have to be prosecuted and jailed. We're talking about COVID-19 funds now, not PhilHealth]," he said.

Duterte added he will make sure that PhilHealth officials are jailed for reported corruption.