Press Release
October 22, 2020

PNRC test holiday distorts COVID picture; slow Bayanihan 2 fund release delays help

The temporary absence of Red Cross testing distorts the national COVID picture. One in four RT-PCR tests is done by the PNRC.

The absence of PNRC deflates the infection rate, making any dip in the reported number of verified cases an artificial decline.

If PNRC stops testing arriving OFWs, our first line of defense against imported cases is abandoned.

PhilHealth should have been proactive in paying PNRC for services rendered. It should always bear in mind that its role is to keep the frontlines supplied, for that is how the war is won.

The fight against the pandemic has no room for logistical timeouts which lead to costly delays and preventable deaths.

The case of PNRC is just a recent example of how slow and low disbursement and procurement have snagged government efforts to save lives and livelihood during this pandemic.

We can only flatten the curve if we first straighten the zigzags in the release of funds and the procurement of goods for which these are intended.

The DBM admitted in an official statement yesterday that funds released under Bayanihan II or RA 11494 amounted to less than P4.5 billion so far, out of the P165.2 billion authorized.

DBM gave this breakdown: P2.52 billion to the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the hiring and training of contact tracers; P855.19 million to the Office of Civil Defense for isolation facilities, including billings for hotels, food and transportation; P215.47 million for the COVID-19 Local Government Support Fund; and P820 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.

We hope that disbursement will be faster than the virus, and that the initial lag will be reversed in the closing months of the year.

We cannot defeat the virus through trickle-down spending, where red tape leads to the slow drip of assistance to the people below.

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