Drilon to scrutinize government's COVID-19 loans during budget deliberations

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 06:27 PM

MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he would scrutinize the billions-worth of loans the government obtained from foreign sources for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic response to see if the "funds were properly spent."

Drilon said he is in favor of borrowing more money to continue the government's cash aid program, but added that Congress should also check if the realigned funds were disbursed properly.

"Our tax collections went down. That is why there is a push to have more borrowings because we have no choice," Drilon said in the online forum Kapihan sa Manila Bay.

"During the budget hearings, we can inquire into these because there are funds, which were authorized to be spent and therefore, in exercise of our oversight functions, it is a question that will be asked so we can have a reasonable judgment," he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that he is also open to "additional borrowings, while rates are still very low."

"We can increase our borrowings without affecting our credit rating if we spend it properly by improving our ability to combat the virus and investing on critical infrastructure that creates jobs and improves our competitiveness in the long run," Recto told reporters in a text message.

"What good is having a good credit rating if we don't use it? Let's use it wisely," he said.

 

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the President was allowed to reallocate funds within the budget to fuel the government's programs against the spread of COVID-19.

Aside from the realignment of funds, the government has borrowed about P386.6 billion to fight the global pandemic, but the Philippines remains to have one of the highest COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.

As of July 15, the Philippines registered a total of 58,850 COVID-19 cases. Of these patients, 20,976 recovered, 1,614 died, while the rest are still recuperating from the disease.