For now, the P900-million or so infrastructure projects allocated for implementation in Catanduanes by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) remain intact despite last week’s realignment of P30 billion in the agency’s infra budget to replenish the treasuries of local governments nationwide.
Last April 6, 2020, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea issued a memorandum for Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado informing him that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposed grant of assistance to Local Government Units (LGUs).
Dubbed as “Bayanihan Grant to Cities and Municipalities”, the extra funding is aimed at boosting their capacity to respond to the COVID-19 situation and would be sourced from the “discontinuance” of P30.824-billion worth of infrastructure projects of the DPWH classified as “For Later Release” under the FY 2020 General Appropriations Act or Republic Act 11465.
The memo directed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to reprogram and/or realign the generated savings of the discontinued projects for said grant, equivalent to one (1) month Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the city or municipality, subject to the availability of funds and pertinent budgetary, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.
An informed source told the Tribune that the DPWH has yet to inform its regional and district offices which infra projects in their respective lists for 2020 were discontinued and realigned to the Bayanihan grant.It is claimed that apart from the so-called “For Later Release” projects, the department also has billions of pesos in “unprogrammed” funds in its budget for the current year.
In Catanduanes, the FLR projects are said to number less than 50, with a total funding of about P900 million.
In a press statement, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the one-time Bayanihan grant should be used for the LGUs’ COVID-19 response and relief efforts.
He stated that the funds should be used solely for programs, projects and activities on COVID-19 such as relief goods for low-income and vulnerable households; procurement of personal protective equipment for frontline service providers, medicines and vitamins, hospital equipment and supplies; disinfectants and related equipment; and tents for temporary shelter of the homeless, among others.
He also urged cities and municipalities to ensure that the Bayanihan Grant are utilized properly and wisely and to maximize it for the benefit of their constituents.
“Naniniwala ako na mas alam at ramdam ninyo ang pangangailangan sa inyong sinasakupan kaya siguruhin po sana natin na gagamitin natin ng maayos ang pondong ito para sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,” said Año.
He also reiterated his call to shun politics in this time of crisis and ensure that help is given even regardless of the political affiliations of barangays. He also reminded them of the “No Epal” provision in the guidelines released by the government in the distribution of relief goods.
Based on the CY2020 IRA of LGUs in the province of Catanduanes, they got the following additional funding: Bagamanoc, P6.1 milliion; Baras, P6.7 million; Bato, P7.1 million; Caramoran, P11.7 million; Gigmoto, P7.1 million; Pandan, P8 million; Panganiban, P5.7 million; San Andres, P11.3 million; San Miguel, P7.3 million; Viga, P8.8 million; and, Virac, P16.7 million.
Catanduanes also received P29.5 million under the one-time Bayanihan Grant to Provinces.