Press Release
June 7, 2021

Drilon says gov't must do a 'cash sweep' to generate funds for COVID-19 vaccines
'The inoculation of 70 million or more Filipinos should take the highest priority in funding and not the anti-insurgency program or the creation of an agency,' he adds

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said the government must do another round of cash sweep to generate funds to cover the payment for COVID-19 vaccines and its immediate rollout when the bulk of the vaccines arrive.

Drilon, however, lamented how the government is scrambling for funding for COVID-19 vaccines but is quick to release billions of funds for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

"This huge allocation for anti-insurgency programs could have been used to buy vaccines. Now we're saying we are short of funds?" Drilon said.

Drilon had earlier questioned the government's quick release of around P10.6 billion out of the P16.4 billion Barangay Development Program administered by NTF-ELCAC.

Drilon said the government has to do a "cash sweep", saying that there are items in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) that can be realigned to pandemic response.

Drilon cited as an example what he recalled "cash sitting idly" in various agencies such as the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC).

"Kailangan walisin yung mga ahensya na hindi naman ginagamit ang pera. Ibili na lang ng bakuna kaysa pinapatulog ang pera," Drilon said.

Drilon also cited the huge allocations for various infrastructure projects under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

"These cash sitting idly in banks or in agencies' accounts can be tapped for the procurement of COVID-19 and fund the rollout of the government's mass vaccination program in the coming months," Drilon stressed.

In May, Drilon called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately recommend to the President the realignment of unutilized special purpose funds (SPFs) and unobligated or unreleased balances of budget items in the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) amounting to approximately P556 billion to fund the pandemic response.

Drilon also expressed support for the government's use of the contingency fund for the procurement of vaccines. President Duterte earlier approved the release of P2.5 billion from the P13.5 billion contingency funds to cover the payment of vaccines and funds its immediate rollout.

"This is the very purpose of contingency funds. It should be used for urgent programs like the inoculation of 70 million Filipinos rather than use it for the creation of an agency such as the DOFIL which can wait," he added, referring to the proposed creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos. The funding for which, when passed into law, will be sourced from the contingency fund.

"The inoculation of 70 million or more Filipinos should take the highest priority in fund allocation and not the anti-insurgency program or the creation of an agency," he said.

Earlier, Drilon said the NTF-ELCAC's anti-insurgency budget could increase by P28 billion in the next year's budget, an election year.

Drilon said he will oppose the budget of NTF-ELCAC for next year and use the appropriation for COVID-19 inoculation program.

The government said that it would need additional P25 billion to inoculate an additional number of Filipinos and include those below 18 years old and additional P55 billion next year for booster shots.

In its report submitted to the Senate, the government said that a total of 4,0003,776 eligible Filipinos were vaccinated with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 1,244,582 eligible population received their complete doses.

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