Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday reminded the public to monitor the 2022 national budget hearings while following the ongoing Senate hearings on the Department of Health’s use of COVID-19 response funds.
During the Facebook livestream of the Sari-Saring Kwentuhan program on September 1, 2021 where new beneficiaries of P10,000 in cash aid were announced, Cayetano said it is important for the Filipinos to listen to the Senate hearings and to try to discern the truth themselves behind DOH’s handling of the funds.
“Kung may naninira, lumabas y’ung katotohanan; kung talagang sira, lumabas din y’ung katotohanan (If it’s nothing but false information, then may the truth come out; if the persons under scrutiny are indeed guilty, then may the truth also come out),” he said.
The public, however, must also “keep [its] focus on the budget hearing,” he said.
“Importante ngayon budget hearing kasi [dapat] sisiguraduhin natin y’ung mga nakalagay d’yan eh kailangan talaga,” he said.
(It’s important for us to monitor the budget hearings because we need to make sure that everything in it is indeed beneficial.)
Cayetano and his allies have been pushing for the inclusion of a national program in the 2022 national budget that will provide P10,000 in cash aid to each Filipino family to help increase household spending and consequently kickstart the economy.
However, the 2022 national budget proposed by the Executive did not contain such a direct stimulus program.
The House’s hearings on the proposed budget started at the Appropriations Committee level on August 26.
Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez echoed Cayetano’s sentiment, saying the group is committed to continuing the 10K Ayuda program despite the issues.
“Sa gitna ng problema natin at nakakakita tayo ng ganitong kaguluhan sa ating bansa lalo na po y’ung napapanood natin ngayon sa Senado ay mag-focus pa rin tayo sa pagbibigay ng tulong sa pamamagitan nito,” Fernandez said.
(Despite seeing such turmoil in our country, especially what we have been witnessing in the Senate, we will not be distracted from providing assistance to our people.)
The DOH is currently under Senate’s scrutiny after being flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) over the allegedly anomalous utilization of P67.32 billion in pandemic response funds, including the procurement of “overpriced” pandemic-related goods and the billions of allotted funds that remain unobligated.
These deficiencies, according to COA, led to “opportunities missed” which could have improved the country’s healthcare system amid a state of national emergency.
“Nakakalungkot ngayon dahil kung lumalabas DOH [ay may problema], eh syempre asang-asa ka [sa kanila] tapos gan’yan ang napapanuod,” Cayetano said.
(It would really be sad if the DOH turns out to be guilty. We’ve all been hoping that it is doing a good job and then you see this kind of activity.)