PRRD defends his admin’s handling of COVID-19 finances

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 8, 2020. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte hit back at critics that were doubtful of the way his administration finances the government’s COVID-19 response specifically the vaccines, saying the money “is in the hands of the bank” and not them.

“If you are afraid of corruption, let your mind go easy because these things are not susceptible to anything. The money is in the hands of the bank and they (the manufacturers) collect…from the bank, hindi sa atin,” Duterte said during the weekly meeting of the IATF.

This comment was directed to Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is requesting an audit on the national government’s use of COVID-19 funds, particularly for the much-delayed vaccines.

“Kung maniwala kayo sa kanila, sige bahala na doon na kayo. Kung maniwala kayo sa amin na walang singko sentimos na hinahawakan po namin,” said Duterte.

Duterte’s statement was backed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, explaining that funds reserved for the vaccines are stored in banks, and are only withdrawn when the anti-coronavirus drugs arrive.

Dominguez stressed that this year’s fund for the COVID-19 crisis response is “enough” to vaccinate all Filipino adults in 2021.

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