BONTOC, Mountain Province– Concerned sectors in the province are now up in arms on the alleged use of some P30 million of the province’s share from the Bayanihan grant for the improvement of the Bontoc General Hospital instead of using the same for the procurement of relief items and in support of the established checkpoints in the province’s boundaries.
Sources, who requested anonymity for personal reasons, claimed that frontliners and volunteers managing the different established provincial checkpoints around the province were surprised to learn that most of the share of the local government from the Bayanihan grant was allegedly used for the improvement of the hospital which is obviously not a priority at this time.
The sources added that priority should have been given to the procurement of relief supplies and to support the round the clock operation of the established checkpoints for the strict implementation of the quarantine protocols to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the different parts of the province.
At present, the sources stated that most of the assistance being provided to the checkpoints are coming from the municipalities where the said quarantine and border controls are situated instead of the support coming from the provincial government.
Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 allows the grant of an amount equivalent to one month of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of cities and municipalities to be released in advance for their anti-COVID operations while provinces are also entitled of similar grant equivalent to one half of their monthly IRA.
According to some of the sources, the improvement of a hospital could be the least priority during this prevailing crisis as funds should be infused for the procurement of relief items to be distributed to the heavily impacted sectors and to support the other interventions being implemented by concerned government agencies, local governments and the private sector to mitigate the effects of the prevailing community quarantine.
The sources pointed out that every municipality was able to strictly enforce the established quarantine protocols to the fullest that is why Mountain province was able to maintain its COVID-19 free status for nearly 3 months that is why it only proves that with utmost cooperation, teamwork and support from the people on the ground, the situation will be under control.
However, the sources claimed that the province’s first COVID-19 case was a coincidence because he was the close contact of an asymptomatic COVID-19 case that visited the province for personal and official duties.
The sources stated that priority should had have been given to the purchase of relief items and to support anti-COVID initiatives by other local governments even if they were previous recipients of similar Bayanihan grants because the downloaded funds were actually not sufficient to cater to the needs of almost all of the populace who were impacted by the implementation of the community quarantine. They reiterated that even with the gradual opening up of the economy, larger portion of the population still needs the appropriate assistance from the government which should have been the primary purpose of the Bayanihan grant that was downloaded to the different local governments at the height of the community quarantine.