Bayanihan 3 law for COVID-19 response not urgent, says Roque

Published May 31, 2021, 1:45 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is not in a rush to seek the passage of a third stimulus package for the coronavirus response and recovery efforts since it was still spending the existing budget.

Las Piñas City residents wait for their turn at a COVID vaccination site inside a mall on May 30, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry, the proposed Bayanihan 3 law passed by lawmakers could serve as a “fallback” in case more funds will be needed to address the impact of the pandemic.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa Kamara sa Bayanihan 3 pero naging consistent position ng ating economic team na pinangungunahan ni Secretary Dominguez, titingnan muna natin kung sapat na ‘yung sa budget natin sa 2021at bukod pa diyan, mayroon pa tayong butal na pondo galing sa Bayanihan 2 (We thank the House for Bayanihan 3 but the consistent position of our economic team led by Secretary Dominguez is we will check first if our 2021 budget is sufficient. Apart from this, we still have remaining funds from Bayanihan 2),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, May 31.

“So we welcome Bayanihan 3 as a fallback pero mukhang hindi pa po urgent ang passage ng bayanihan 3 dahil ginagastos pa natin ang existing budget natin (but it seems that the passage of Bayanihan 3 is not urgent because we are still spending our existing budget),” he said.

Roque made the remarks when asked if President Duterte will call for a special session to hasten the passage of the Bayanihan 3 law.

The House of Representatives recently approved on second reading the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or Bayanihan 3 that provides a P401-billion relief package to help the country recover from the pandemic.

Under the bill, around P216 billion will be set aside for the distribution of P2,000 emergency cash aid to each Filipino in two tranches. The measure also included allocations for wage subsidies, aid for displaced workers, nutrition support, local government units support fund, assistance for agri-fishery sector, medical aid, among others.

The bill, which has not been certified as urgent by President Duterte, has yet to secure the constitutional requirement of certification from the national treasury on the availability of funds for implementation.

The Palace was previously reluctant to support the Bayanihan 3 bill, citing the need to verify if there will be funding sources for its implementation. It also claimed that the government has enough resources to address the pandemic, citing the 2021 national budget and the Bayanihan 2 law.