FOI can help prevent misuse of COVID-19 funds -- solon

THE House Minority bloc is proposing to the government proper monitoring of funds allocated for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. underscored the need to pass the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill, as it will prevent the misuse and abuse of funds meant to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

Congress is about to ratify Bayanihan 2 or the We Recover As One Act to which it allocates over P162 billion for the different agencies in a bid to recover from the pandemic.

“We urge our coworkers in the Executive to make the most of these funds. Bantayan sana nila ng masinsinan upang magamit ang pondo ng maayos.”

The lawmaker pointed out that even the President had revealed that the government’s financial resources were insufficient, “so we hope they properly monitor the use of these funds and come down hard on misuse, misappropriation, and corruption.”

Abante said this would be an opportune time to revisit the FOI measures, as an FOI act would guarantee more transparency in the disbursement and use of public funds, especially those being mobilized to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak.

A former chairperson of the House Committee on Public Information, Abante is a longtime advocate of FOI legislation.

Meanwhile, Abante also extended his sympathies to two officials who recently passed away due to Covid-19, House Senior Affairs Chairperson and Senior Citizens Partylist Rep. Francisco “Jun” Datol and former Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes.       

“At this point, this pandemic has really exacted a heavy toll on our country,” lamented the legislator.

“Nakakalungkot po, at nakikiramay po kami sa pamilya nina Rep. Datol at Chairman Brillantes. Alam po natin na napaka-vulnerable ang ating mga senior citizens sa virus na ito, and their passing serves to remind us that we all have to work together to protect our loved ones––especially those in the twilight of their lives––from this disease,” he added.