The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)'s P577 million unutilized funds during Duterte's term.
In a report for the DILG in 2021, COA said the agency had P4.038 billion for COVID-19 response. DILG utilized only P3.46 billion, or 85.71% of the total pandemic-related expenditures.
“Due to non/partial implementation of projects/activities, the DILG was unable to maximize use of the P4.038 billion allotment received for COVID-19 response,” COA said in their report.
“The unobligated amount of P577.053 million or 14.29 percent thereof was reverted to the Unappropriated Surplus of the General Fund,” it added.
For DILG’s 2021 budget, P2.12 billion came from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and P4.04 billion was from the Bayanihan to Recover as One (BARO) Act. DILG used 93.39 percent of the allotment they received from the national budget, but only 77.20 percent of BARO was used from the latter act – funds that are dedicated for the COVID-19 response.
Yet the agency was able to allocate a total of P417.16 million for projects such as the controversial Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS), Communicating for Perpetual End to Extreme Violence and forming Alliance towards Positive Change and Enriched Communities, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Insurgency, and the Decentralization and Constitutional Reform Advocacy Campaign.
The report also says the DILG’s Central Office failed to hire contact tracers and instead used current personnel “to assist in its day to day operations.”
The Philippines is tallied as one of the worst performers in pandemic recovery among countries in the Southeast Asia, according to economic think tank IBON Foundation.
Duterte insisted that containing the COVID-19 pandemic in "a very much earlier span of time" is one of his administration's standout achievements.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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