The Philippine Government’s COVID-19 Response: Citizen’s Budget Tracker Project

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05 June 2020 – MBC organized a briefing on government’s COVID-19 spending for embassies and international partners based on the research of the Citizen’s Budget Tracker project. Ken Abante, a former DOF chief of staff, leads the project and gave the briefing.

 The Philippines has a war chest of PHP 1.6 Trillion for COVID-19 spending. In a private policy briefing with MBC and its international partners, former DOF staffer and civil society leader, Ken Abante, breaks down how the government is spending — or not spending — money to flatten the curve.   

Abante says the Philippines has enough money for our COVID response, but the government isn’t equipped to spend it fast enough. Lack of human resources may be the culprit: some municipalities have just one health officer, who is now in charge of disbursing millions of pesos. As a result, only a sixth of PPEs have been distributed and only half of social assistance has been disbursed. 

Slow government spending places vulnerable people in dire straits. Many whose incomes improved over the previous years have sunk back below the poverty line. PWDs, who already lack access to services and job opportunities, are also neglected by the social amelioration program.