Provincial governments should also get the same “Bayanihan” financial aid granted by the national government to cities and towns to fund their response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic, according to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
“PLGUs (provincial local government units) play a crucial role in implementing the measures imposed by the national government to control the spread of the virus. It would be beneficial to the people if PLGUs are also given additional funding to better respond to the needs of their constituents,” Go said in response to the appeal of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).
The senator is recommending cash aid to PLGU equivalent to half of a province’s one-month Internal Revenue Allotment to capacitate them further in responding more effectively to the increasing needs of their residents amid the COVID-19 health emergency.
“Marami sa mga patients natin ay sa provincial hospitals po unang dinadala. It is the PLGUs that pay for the operations of these hospitals,” said Go.
The PLGU were not given the cash aid to avoid redundancy since they share the same constituents with municipalities and cities under their jurisdictions.
Go, however, said “even an amount equivalent to half of a PLGU’s one-month IRA” can go a long way in enhancing the capabilities of provinces to respond to the crisis, especially in equipping their provincial hospitals amid the growing number of patients in their localities.
“Huwag na nating hayaan na kumalat pa ang virus. Ihanda na natin ang mga probinsya kahit sa pinaka-malalayong mga lugar. I-equip na natin ang kanilang mga ospital. Dagdagan na rin natin ang mga testing centers and quarantine facilities,” he said.
Aside from equipping provincial hospitals, a Bayanihan cash aid can also be used by PLGU to identify and ensure that isolation units in their areas are fully equipped; distribute relief goods and other basic necessities on top of what the national government is providing; secure borders through checkpoints with equipped uniformed personnel; provide transportation and other needs to frontliners and health workers; guarantee unimpeded movement of goods and commodities; ensure that the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act Act” and all executive issuances related to COVID-19 are strictly implemented; and perform other functions strictly related to the COVID-19 situation.
Earlier, ULAP national president and Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua appealed for the Bayanihan aid citing their vital role in managing healthcare provider networks under the Universal Health Care Law.
Meanwhile, Go said PLGU should utilize the cash aid properly based on its intended purpose and in a manner that upholds transparency and accountability if their appeal for additional funding is granted.
“Sa panahong ito, konsensya niyo na lamang ang tututok sa inyo. Siguraduhin natin na magamit ang pondo ng tama, walang masayang, at maramdaman ng mga tao kahit sa malalayong lugar ang tulong mula sa gobyerno,” said Go who is a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee overseeing the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.