President Rodrigo Roa Duterte assured the public on Tuesday that all government expenditures regarding the country’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be accounted for.
“Gusto kong ipaalam sa lahat that as upon my oath of office huwag kayong mag-alala lahat ng pera diyan nagastos dito sa away ng COVID ay maa-account,” President Duterte said in a televised address aired Tuesday morning.
“I will hold myself responsible for this sole and solemn duty of answering for and in behalf of the executive department of all the funds that were spent in the fight against COVID.”
The National Task Force for COVID-19 will provide a detailed report on how all funds were spent and also the intended purpose, the President said.
Certain measures will be put in place to ensure transparency in government expenditures, he noted.
Aside from COVID-19-related funds, he also ordered government offices such as the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of National Defense (DND), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to publish their expenditures in at least three major news outlets.
“Sa pagka ngayon sa lahat, not only the COVID mechanism, iyong PhilHealth, lahat DPWH, Agriculture, DND, ipa-publish ‘yung mga — so they must prepare well in advance because I would require them to publish in the newspaper, sa tatlong newspapers of general circulation,” said President Duterte.
“Ipa-publish ko ito, ang mga bibilhin at pagkatapos ipa-publish ko pagkatapos sa notice sino ‘yung bidders, ‘yung pangalan nila. I want them na kung saan sila nakatira.”
The members of the Cabinet should also make their own publication detailing disbursements and total monthly expenses, the President said.
At the same time, President Duterte has encouraged Congress to create an oversight committee that will oversee expenditures to guarantee that public money is spent properly.
“I am urging Congress, as a matter of fact, I am demanding Congress to join us in putting up measures to ensure that the money is spent to its purpose. Ilagay na ninyo ang lahat ng safety measures para walang palpak,” he told lawmakers.
The President said he is willing to order agencies to work with policy makers to ensure that safety measures are in place.
“I’m ready to order that. It is not a matter of separation of powers. Iyan ‘yung parang expanded oversight lang na gusto lang man — it is never illegal to know where your money is going,” he said.
The President came up with the measures to prevent fund misappropriation in government agencies following reports of corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
The President has vowed to go after PhilHealth officials involved in corruption saying he himself would endorse the cases to be filed against them.
“Iyong PhilHealth ang dapat imbestigahan at dapat i-prosecute lahat at dapat ikulong. Kung iyan na lang ang trabaho ko sa maiwan ko sa tat — dalawang taon, iyan na rin ang gagawain ko,” he said.
“One of the things that — few things that I can do in the remaining two years of my term, uubusin ko ito ‘yung panahon ko to work on the cases for people who are involved in the PhilHealth.” PND