The national government should allocate the unspent Bayanihan fund to the poor, according to the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya). 

Pamalakaya said the unused funding, which is worth Php 18 billion, will be a key factor in helping the impoverished sector to cope with the economic struggles brought about by the pandemic. 

The organization also pointed out the administration’s ‘snail-paced’ response to the pandemic. They note that a huge chunk of funding was left unspent until the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act expired last June 30. 

“The unspent funds of the Bayanihan 2 are a reflection not only of government’s incompetence but also its abandonment of responsibility to the Filipinos amid a crisis, which is tantamount to criminal negligence,” Pamalakaya’s National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said

“This is both infuriating and disheartening given the fact that assisting the poor Filipinos in these hard times is the primary responsibility of the government,” he added.

On Sunday night (June 4), Vice President Leni Robredo also expressed the same concern during her weekly radio program on dzXL.

“It’s disappointing to see such a large amount of money not being used. Many could have benefited from it,” Robredo shared in Filipino. 

With Bayanihan to Recover as One Act expired, half of the unused funding will be channeled back into the national treasury. 

During her show, Robredo also talked about Bloomberg’s recent COVID Resilience Ranking, which was published last week. The report ranks the country 52nd among 53 countries.

“India, the Philippines and some Latin America countries rank lowest amid a perfect storm of variant-driven outbreaks, slow vaccination, and global isolation,” Bloomberg explained. 

Meanwhile, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III argued that what the report said was incorrect. 

“I’m really pi**ed with this. Hindi naman tama,” he said in an interview with ANC.

“If you look at the parameters that you just enumerated, these are so skewed to the high vaccination rate. I’d be the first one to admit that we don’t have enough vaccines to give a population protection rate of at least 50% for fully immunized vaccines,” he explained further. 

According to Robredo, the government should use the report to review its shortcomings and identify areas that it could further improve when it comes to the pandemic response and vaccination. 

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