Sat. Jul 24th, 2021

Malacañang on Monday said it will respect the decision of Congress should it extend the validity of Republic Act 11519, also known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

(photo courtesy: http://www.pna.gov.ph)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark as he confirmed that P18.4 billion under the law remained unobligated.

“I confirm that according to data from the DBM (Department of Budget and Management), the obligated funds of Bayanihan 2 is P123.2 billion or 87.01 percent. So, there is still a balance of P18.4 billion or 13 percent,” he said in a Palace press briefing in Filipino.

He, however, said he has yet to find out whether President Rodrigo Duterte would call for a special session to extend the validity of the law.

Bayanihan 2 was extended until June 30 this year after it lapsed on Dec. 19, 2020.

Last week, House and Ways Committee chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda pushed for the holding of a special session while Congress is in recess to discuss a proposal to extend the validity of Bayanihan 2 at least until the end of the year.

Salceda warned that when Bayanihan 2 expires on June 30, funding for contact tracers and human resources for health (HRH) hired under Bayanihan 2 will also lapse.

“Without such extension, provinces potentially face a situation of having their contact tracing and health care response capacities drastically reduced for at least 26 days (from the law’s expiry to the opening of session on July 26),” Salceda said in a statement on Friday.

He said local response teams and civil society groups have requested Congress to pass a bill providing for an extension of the appropriations and capacity to obligate and disburse funds until Dec. 31, 2021.

“The extension is a matter of life and death in many communities, as contact tracers and augmented human resources for health were hired under Bayanihan 2 contracts that will also expire by June 30,” Salceda said.

In the Senate, Senator Francis Pangilinan called on Duterte to obligate the remaining funds under Bayanihan 2 to procure Covid-19 vaccines before the law expires.

He said the government should conduct 700,000 jabs a day to achieve population protection before the end of the year. SOVEREIGNPH

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