CEBU CITY, Philippines—A coalition is demanding transparency and accountability for the budget allocated for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response here.
The Freedom Debt Coalition composed of various cause-oriented groups in the city said there is a need to show the public a transparent liquidation of the P3.5 billion funds for the pandemic response since March 2020.
“We, as members of Civil Society Organizations in Cebu, were totally alarmed of what has transpired of the gruelling budget hearings.”
“We maintained our position that a real budget for the City that must be passed should be in consonance with the needs of its constituency. A budget that will negate the impacts brought about by the onslaught of the pandemic,” said the coalition.
The group said that before the P10.8 billion proposed budget be enacted for 2021, the public deserves to know how the pandemic funds were spent and if these expenses are justified.
The said they fully subscribe to the framework for good governance, invoking the principle of accountability, transparency, and honesty as a basis of enacting a budget that will conform to the needs of the Cebuanos in a pandemic state.
“While it is true that the city is assured of funds to be utilized in the 2021 annual budget, especially the budget for health which is almost doubled compared to the 2020 budget, that does not mean it will let go of the liquidation needed to account the appropriated funds and must be contented only with availing the wisdom of health experts and the like,” said the coalition.
The group hopes that before the City Council will enact the 2021 budget on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, a clarification on this budget should already be presented.
The council needs to pass the annual budget on Wednesday or else the 2020 budget will be reenacted, which does not have allocations for pandemic response.