Press Release
March 24, 2020

Drilon: COA rules, anti-graft law will not be waived in 'Bayanihan' bill

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said that audit regulations on government agencies and the anti-graft law will remain enforced in the "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act" which would assist the President in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

On Monday, the Senate, voting12-0, approved Senate Bill1418 or the "Bayanihan to Heal As One Act" authored by Senate President Tito Sotto III and Senator Pia Cayetano.

Drilon, however, made it clear that the move by Congress does not in any way waive audit rules and regulations and the anti-graft law.

"Nais kong bigyang diin na hindi ibig sabihin na isasantabi na natin ang ating auditing rules, ang safeguards, ang anti-graft laws. Hindi po binabalewala iyan," Drilon said in an interview with radio station DzBB on Tuesday.

"It does not mean that we will set aside Commission of Audit rules and our anti-graft law. Kapag hindi natin sinunod ito ay may pananagutan pa rin tayo," he warned.

The minority leader agreed that these are extraordinary times as coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads throughout the country.

"Aminin natin o hindi, talagang may emergency sa ating paligid ngayon. Many are sick and the demand on medical services is very high, and manyhave lost their livelihood and income due to the quarantine," he said.

Drilon said he hopes that the measure will "give enough leeway to the executive branch to do their job" within three months.

Drilon amended the Malacanan bill and put a stop on the desired "perpetual exercise of the emergency powers" by limiting the same to three months, unless Congress extends the same.

Under the proposed measure, the President is given the authority to declare savings within the executive branch in the 2020 General Appropriations Act and use them to augment items that could address the effects of the coronavirus in the country.

Drilon said he proposed amendments to make the provisions of the measure compliant to the Supreme Court rulings on Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

"Ang power to realign ay dapat sang-ayon sa mga reglamento na inilabas ng Korte Suprema doon sa PDAF at DAP cases," he added.

"Ang sinabi ng Korte Suprema ang pwede lang i-realign ay yung within the executive branch, hindi kasama yung sa legislative, judiciary, constitutional commissions, at dapat may savings," Drilon explained.

"We also made sure that the funds will be used to fund programs, projects and activities that directly related to addressing the covid-19 pandemic" he added.

The minority leader also proposed to prioritize several items in the budget which the Senate adopted. These include the following:

  • Under the Department of Health - operational budgets of government hospitals, primarily those indentified for treatment of COVID-19; prevention and control of other infesctious diseases; eergency preparedness and response; quick response fund;

  •  Under the University of the Philippines - the operational budget of the Philippine General Hospital;

  •  The National Disaster Risk Reduction fund or calamity fund;

  • Programs of the Department of Labor and Employment, such as but not limited to Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disvanvantaged/Displaced Workers and COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program;

  • Under the Department of Agriculture - Rice Farmers Financial Assistance Program;

The minority leader also expressed full support to the grant of P8,000 to Filipino poor households for two, urging the executive to roll out the program at the soonest time possible to help them cope with the effects of COVID-19.

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