Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has thanked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) “for taking the lead among other government agencies supervising over government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) in contributing to our collective effort to defeat COVID-19.”
Dominguez issued this statement after the DOTr turned over last week to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) dividend contributions totaling P10 billion from three state-owned firms under DOTr’s supervision to help fund government-led efforts in defeating the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
These dividends came from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), which Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had ordered to release their remittances in advance to the BTr.
GOCCs are required to declare and remit at least half of their income as dividends to the national government under Republic Act (RA) No. 7656.
The PPA contributed P4 billion in dividends while the MIAA and CAAP remitted P3 billion each to the BTr, for a total of P10 billion.
According to Tugade, the dividends remitted by the three DOTr agencies will greatly help in funding the government’s campaign against COVID-19, as well as other government projects.
“We are now engaged in a war against COVID-19 and the government now needs to muster every financial support it can get to contain and eliminate this deadly disease. We at the DOTr are throwing our support to this effort and to make sure that we as a country survives to see victory in this war against an invisible but very dangerous enemy,” Tugade said.
The newly enacted RA 11469, or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” has given the President special but limited powers to allocate cash, funds, investments, including unutilized or unreleased subsidies and transfers, held by any GOCC for programs to address the COVID-19 emergency.
DOF estimates show that over P200 billion in cash or its equivalent in various GOCC accounts, and national government agencies’ accounts outside the Treasury Single Account can be tapped to help finance the massive funding needed to implement the provisions of RA 11469.
These include measures aimed at protecting and compensating health workers and boosting their capability to fight COVID-19, and to provide emergency subsidies to 18 million poor and low-income households who lost their sources of income because of the coronavirus-induced crisis.
Dominguez earlier thanked the Congress for acting quickly during a special session in approving the Bayanihan Act, which empowers President Duterte to tap all available state resources to contain the spread of COVID-19 and provide a multibillion-peso economic relief package for vulnerable sectors most affected by this global health crisis.
Dominguez–the head of the state economic team–also assured the Congress that state funds that President Duterte is now authorized under the measure to reprogram, realign, reallocate or reutilize would not affect the government’s economic pump-priming and anti-poverty measures, such as its centerpiece infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build.”
President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 929 on March 17 placing the entire country under a state of calamity for six months following the sustained community transmission of COVID-19, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Before that, on March 16, the President placed Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon under an ECQ to restrict the movement of people by requiring them to stay in their homes, in a bid to prevent the exponential spread of this highly infectious virus.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has commended the Duterte administration for its “proactive and preemptive” response to the coronavirus pandemic.