Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said the government can tap the P13-billion contingent fund and the President’s P4.5 billion confidential and intelligence to continuously provide compensation to frontline health workers who are affected by the COVID-19 and augment funding for relief programs to poor families who are still suffering from effects of the pandemic.
Drilon issued the statement amid concerns that frontline health workers who are sacrificing their own health and lives to treat patients infected with coronavirus disease are not entitled to compensation following the expiration of Bayanihan to Health as one Act last Friday.
Drilon said that while the compensation for frontline health workers lapsed with the expiration Bayanihan law, the President can still continue the program.
“Kaya po ng Pangulo na magbigay ng compensation sa ating frontline health workers kahit wala na ang Bayanihan Law. Kayang ipagpatuloy iyan at kunin sa contingent fund o intelligence fundng Pangulo,”Drilon said in an interview over radio station DzBB Sunday.
“The President has enough funds at his disposal,” he added.
The 2020 General Appropriations Act has allocated P4.5 billion confidential and intelligence fund for the President and P13 billion for contingent fund.
Drilon reiterated that the President has the power to realign funds and within the executive branch to other items of existing appropriations or items in the 2020 General Appropriations Act to fund COVID-19 response activities.
Such power, he emphasized, is granted by the Constitution and not by the expired Bayanihan law.
Hence, the minority leader pushed for the continuation of relief and assistance programs to the poor and the labor and business sectors heavily hit by the pandemic.
“The President is authorized to suspend the expenditure of appropriations, declare savings and realign the same under the Article 6, Section 25 of the Constitution, Section 38 and 39 of the Revised Administrative Code, and Section 66 of the 2020 General Appropriations Act,” according to Drilon.
He said the President can exercise all these powers in order to respond to COVID-19 pandemic and continue some programs which were provided for in the lapsed Bayanihan law.
“You cannot say that because the law lapsed or that we are no longer under an enhanced community quarantine, we should stop giving relief and assistance programs to the poor. Many of our countrymen still do not have food to eat and millions have lost jobs and are still unable to get back to work up to now. We should continue to assist them until they are able to get back on their feet,” Drilon said.
Drilon called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to immediately release the second tranche of government social amelioration program, the fund for which was already downloaded even before the expiration of Bayanihan Law.
“Hindi dahilan na sa wala ng ECQ, wala ng dahilan para hindi magbigay ng tulong,” he added.
Drilon also urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to continue to shoulder the hospitalization of frontline medical workers despite the expiration of Bayanihan law.
Meanwhile, Drilon said police authorities could no longer use the expired Bayanihan law to arrest and detain those who allegedly posted “fake news” and violated curfews and quarantine restrictions.
Drilon deleted the punitive provisions of the Bayanihan law amid reports of abuses and inequity in its implementation./Stacy Ang