“Filipinos whose lives and livelihoods were affected by the pandemic have been hit with a double whammy as much-needed aid did not reach them, ” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.

He was referring to the more than PHP63 billion underspending under Bayanihan 2 law. 

The bad thing, Lacson said,  is that Bayanihan 2 expired last June 30. 

He said those who were denied the funds will no longer get aid unless a new law can be passed.

“No thanks to a PHP63 billion-plus underspending by the government under Bayanihan 2 — with some PHP46.397 billion undisbursed and PHP17.273 billion unobligated,” added Lacson.

After being wrongfully accused by President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend Lacson researched on the matter.

“We should keep in mind that underspending is determined not by fund releases but by obligations and disbursements. And based on my research, is there underspending? Yes!” Lacson said.

The Senator who is gunning for president in next year’s  elections, pointed  underspending of the Bayanihan 2 funds had denied much-needed assistance to many Filipinos.

These include the undergoing  “online learning program” of the Department of Education, as well as programs for public utility vehicle drivers. 

He pointed out the release of the budget by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the agencies concerned is not a determinant of underspending because the funds remain with the agencies and  not yet to the intended beneficiaries. 

Instead, he said underspending should be based on obligations and disbursements.

“Releasing the funds is a step toward spending but it is not spending itself. Just because the DBM released the funds does not mean the funds are spent. If the implementing agencies that got the funds from the DBM are incompetent, the funds won’t reach the beneficiaries,” he said.

Citing latest data from the DBM, Lacson said that of the PHP205.117-billion allotment under Bayanihan 2, agencies incurred an obligation of PHP187.844 billion, or an obligation rate of 91.58 percent. 

But only PHP141.447 billion was disbursed, for a disbursement rate of 75.30 percent and 24.7 percent has not been disbursed.

“This can be considered huge underspending with PHP46.397 billion undisbursed and PHP17.273 billion unobligated,” Lacson said.