Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday thumbed down proposals to legislate another measure providing multi-billion funding for the government’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
“A Bayanihan 3 makes no sense. None at all,” Drilon said in a text message to reporters.
Drilon pointed out that the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 is still in effect and the government has yet to release funds for its effective implementation.
“Bayanihan 2 is still effective up to December 19, and a substantial portion of the funds have not been released, and funded programs and projects have not been implemented,” the minority leader said.
He also said there is no need to legislate another Bayanihan 3 since the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021, which they expect to be passed before the end of December, will take effect starting next year.
“The 2021 budget will be effective January 1, 2021. Clearly, (there’s no sense for Bayanihan 3,” he said.
“We must recalibrate the 2021 budget to have more funds, effective January 1, 2021 for COVID-19 vaccines, calamities, for DOH (Department of Health), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and other social services,” he added.
He also renewed his push for the government to realign the funds under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the intelligence and confidential funds under Malacanang to augment the state’s needs for COVID-19 response.
“We must realign the P19-billion anti-insurgency or NTF-ELCAC (fund) and P9-billion intel and confidential funds to address these critical and urgent need for social services,” he said.
Senate Finance Committee chief Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said that while the Senate is not keen on legislating a ‘Bayanihan 3,’ some House lawmakers are already studying the feasibility of passing the measure.
“That’s very preliminary just the opinion of some House leaders. (But) more pressing than that is the possible need to extend the validity or effectivity of the Bayanihan 2 law which expires on Dec. 19,” Angara said.
Asked if passing a third Bayanihan Act is possible, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said it would depend on the circumstances, especially “if the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) cannot address the concerns.”
However, he said, such talks were only done “in passing” and that there is “nothing concrete yet.”