Vice President Leonora Robredo on Sunday lamented that there were unused Bayanihan funds that could have helped the poor amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her weekly radio program, Robredo explored the possibility of having access to the P18.4-billion unused funds under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 that expired on June 30.
“When I read about it, I had a feeling of regret for not having utilized the funds. What a waste? I was thinking of, what if the fund was given to us, we could have served (the people) with the vaccine,” she said.
“For us, we regretted that since that was the time that we really needed the funds. Isn’t it? The President was always saying that we did not have the money but the money was just there. The money was just there but was not spent.”
The Duterte administration, however, claimed that the unused portion of the fund only amounted to P9 billion, and not P18.4 billion, and that the unspent money would be turned over to the National Treasury.
According to Robredo, farmers, the ordinary workers and health-care workers as well as health institutions could have benefited from the unutilized funds.
Robredo said also on Sunday that the government should consider the recent COVID-19 resilience study in assessing its pandemic response.
The Philippines ranked 52nd among 53 countries in Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking published last week.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque had said the ranking was “very unfair” and used parameters that were “skewed” to countries with a high vaccination rate.