Duterte orders OCD to manage, allocate donated medical supplies vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 1, 2020   •   850

The aid packages donated by the People’s Republic of China undergo disinfection upon arrival at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on March 21, 2020. The donation includes assorted medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and testing kits for coronavirus. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has tasked the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to consolidate and manage all medicines, medical equipment, and other supplies donated to the national government in the fight against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Duterte issued the directive through Administrative Order No. 27 which establishes the framework on the acceptance, distribution, and delivery of medicines, medical equipment, and supplies donated to the national government for operations against COVID-19.

According to the order, which Duterte signed on March 31, the OCD must prepare an inventory of all donations to the national government and the Department of Health (DOH).

It is also tasked to coordinate with the DOH, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and other relevant agencies in the determination of which health facilities, establishments or beneficiary groups are in need of medical supplies.

The order also states that all donations intended to address the COVID-19 situation, whether received or accepted from private companies, foreign governments, non-governmental organizations or any group or individual should be coordinated with and transmitted to the OCD for consolidation.

Direct donations of medical products and supplies to the government will still be allowed but it should be reported by the recipient agencies.

The OCD will keep a record of these direct donations in line with its authority to assess whether these items may be reallocated to other health facilities or establishments that are in greater need of the medical goods.

The Department of National Defense shall provide the necessary logistical support to the OCD for the consolidation and distribution of the donated medicines and medical equipment to identified beneficiary facilities.

Presidential Peace Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity and chief implementer of the national policy against COVID-19 Carlito Galvez Jr., will oversee the consolidation, management, inventory, recording, and distribution of donations, ensure the efficient and expeditious distribution of assistance to the public.

The OCD is directed to submit a weekly report to the Office of the President on the actions taken relative to the implementation of the order. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Guevarra on order to probe corruption in entire gov’t: ‘Toughest task from Duterte’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that the order for him to conduct a government-wide probe of corruption is his “toughest” assignment ever received from President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte directed the DOJ to expand the role of its task force, which probed the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to cover the entire government.

He also authorized the DOJ to decide on which allegation to investigate taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.

The chief executive also granted DOJ the power to create as many panels as necessary and direct other government agencies to be part of such committees.

Duterte said his directive will remain in effect until the end of his term on June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.

“Apart from my usual responsibilities as SOJ, this new assignment is the toughest I have ever received from the President,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“I will need all the support and cooperation of the entire government machinery to achieve this singular objective of substantially reducing corruption in government,” he added.

Considering the scope of the task, Guevarra said he will first determine the overall strategy and the order of priorities as well as the setting up of the expanded anti-corruption task force.

“Tentatively, I am thinking of creating several strike forces that will simultaneously attack various corruption-prone agencies,” he said.

Guevarra also said that he intends to immediately focus on the organizational set-up and mechanism that will carry out the president’s directive.

The Justice Secretary added that it would also help if government workers and other people would come forward to provide the task force with the necessary information to uncover corrupt activities and identify perpetrators.

“The new and expanded anti-corruption task force will take it from there,” he said.

The DOJ already leads an inter-agency task force, formed in August, that probed alleged corruption in the PhilHealth which resulted in the filing of complaints against several officials, including former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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P4.413B out of P140B Bayanihan 2 funds released to agencies, DBM says

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than P4 billion worth of funds allocated for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response and recovery efforts have been released to government agencies, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

The DBM issued the statement on Tuesday after some senators slammed the agency for the slow release of funds under the Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), which aims to provide funds to assist sectors heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assures the Filipino people that it provides sufficient attention to the release of funds pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 11494 or the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’,” the department said.

It said that out of the P140 billion worth of COVID-19 related interventions, allotments amounting to P4.413 billion have already been released to the following agencies:

Department/AgencyAmount (in PhP)Purpose
Department of the Interior and Local Government2,522,660,000.00Hiring and training of contract tracers
Office of Civil Defense855,190,418.00Construction and maintenance of isolation facilities including billings of hotels, food and transportation
Bureau of the Treasury for the Local Government Units215,476,750.00COVID-19 Local Government Support Fund 
Department of Foreign Affairs820,000,000.00Assistance-to-Nationals Fund
Total4,413,327,168.00

“These releases were charged against the certified amount of the Bureau of the Treasury pursuant to Section 4(ss) of RA No. 11494,” the DBM said.

On the other hand, the release of funds for the following Departments/Agencies were already recommended to the Office of the President (OP):

Department/AgencyAmount (in PhP)Purpose
Department of Labor and Employment 8,000,000,000.00COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program and Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program
Department of Social Welfare and Development6,000,000,000.00Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) and Sustainable Livelihood Program
Department of Agriculture11,632,000,000.00Implementation of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program
Department of Health20,575,952,000.00Health-related responses such as Human Resources for health, augmentation for operations of DOH hospitals, Special Risk Allowances, Actual Hazard Duty Pay, Free life insurance, accommodation, transportation and meals for health workers, and other compensation to public and private health workers, among others
Total46,207,952,000.00

“The approval from OP was sought considering that the funding source will be the balance of pooled savings under RA No. 11469 consistent with Section 11 of RA No. 11494 and that the authority to use savings was granted by Congress to the President of the Philippines,” the DBM said.

“The corresponding Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) will be released as soon as we receive the pertinent OP approvals,” it added.

As to the remaining balance of the allocated amounts, the DBM expects the respective departments/agencies to submit their corresponding budget requests, outlining the specific items of expenditures, targeted beneficiaries and expected outputs consistent with existing budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations and reflected through their respective Budget Execution Documents and Disbursement Programs.

“As soon as these requests are received, the DBM will immediately evaluate the same to ensure their alignment with the intention of RA No. 11494 and will recommend to the President the release of funds charged against the identified funding sources,” the department said.

The DBM also said it is in close coordination with the Bureau of the Treasury to ensure that the funding sources identified under RA No. 11494 are readily available to support the allotments that the department will issue to the respective departments/agencies.

“All allotments released pursuant to RA No. 11494 will be appropriately reported to Congress and the Commission on Audit, as well as to the general public through the DBM website,” it said.

Senators earlier called on the DBM to expedite the release of COVID-19 funds under Bayanihan 2 law before it expires on December 19, 2020.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on Sept. 11.

Malacañang, however, expressed its belief that funds allotted for the implementation of COVID-19 measures under the Bayanihan 2 are beyond the law’s expiration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte promises to settle PhilHealth’s multi-million debt to Philippine Red Cross

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte assures the public that the government will settle what it owes to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing. 

The President said the government will present its plan to the Commission on Audit (COA) and will look for funds through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Itong Red Cross, wag ka mag-aalala, babayaran ito (To the Red Cross, don’t you worry. You will get paid). We’re just looking for a way to present the solution to COA pati sa Budget. Do not worry we will pay. It will take time but we will pay, we will look for the money,” he said during his public address, Monday evening (October 19).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government hopes to settle at least 50 percent of more than P930 million owed to PRC as soon as possible.

“We hope to settle at least 50% of that amount as soon as possible. And the rest also within reasonable time,” he said.

The arrears came from expenses incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the PRC in relation to the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR testing for coronavirus infection.

The President reiterated that the government’s priorities amid the pandemic are providing medical attention to the Filipinos and procuring medical equipment.

He also believes that the PRC through its chairman Senator Richard Gordon will understand the government’s position on the matter.

“What I’m really trying to say is we will pay. Sabi ko kay Senator Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ito,” the President said. 

Nonetheless, the government has assured the public that the COVID-19 testing in the country will not be affected by the debts owed to the PRC.

Specimens from returning overseas Filipino workers as well as from frontliners which used to be accommodated by the PRC will now be sent to more than 100 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country for processing. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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