Gov’t should obligate P173-billion before Bayanihan 2 expires in ten days—Pangilinan

Published June 20, 2021, 1:32 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The government must obligate the P173-billion from Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 before the law expires on June 30, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said on Sunday, June 20.

Pangilinan said the government should ramp up its COVID-19 vaccination program using the funds under the Bayanihan 2, and thus, help the country recover from an economic slump.

The senator pointed out that while the Department of Health (DOH) is seeking an additional P66-billion for its COVID response, about P173-billion from Bayanihan 2 law have not been obligated or released yet.

During the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing, Pangilinan noted the P173-billion will be sourced from the unspent funds of several government agencies and tax collections.

But this amount remains unspent, Pangilinan said citing figures from the Department of Finance (DOF).

“Government agencies need to shape up because with this big amount, they can do a lot to ease the difficulties of the Filipinos impacted by the pandemic. It’s a sin to have this much money and be sluggish in acting,” Pangilinan said.

With the funds, the lawmaker said the government should catch up to achieve its promise of herd immunity with the inoculation of 70 million Filipinos by the end of the year.

Pangilinan noted there have been spikes of COVID cases in the promises.

“If we are able to stop the spread of the virus, it’s only then can we go back to normalcy. That’s why, we need to step up on the vaccine roll-out,” he said.

According to Pangilinan, the efforts of the DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to address the COVID-19 pandemic remain wanting, especailly in giving the jabs to Filipinos.

The vaccination drive, he said, is seen as key to fully opening up the economy, making people go back to their jobs and giving opportunities to the jobless.

“Getting vaccinated is such a big deal for our relatives and loved ones in the family. Vaccination is the solution and so we should not be afraid of this,” he stressed.