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Release of additional ‘ayuda’ needs new law–Roque

Harry Roque

MALACAÑANG on Monday said it is open to additional legislated funds to provide the needed assistance to people affected by quarantine restrictions during the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In an online news briefing last Monday, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque admitted the government already lacks the needed budget to provide more “ayuda” or aid to Covid-affected people.

For the said purpose, Roque said the government is now considering the proposal in Congress for the passage of the Bayanihan 3.

“The Bayanihan 3 will be in the nature of a supplemental budget. In other words it is a sum of money, which is not included in the 2021 national budget,” Roque said.

The government already tapped its P23 billion “unutilized” fund under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) to provide aid to over 22 million people in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas after it was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on March 29, 2021.

But aside from budget for additional aid, Roque said the government still has enough budget for its other Covid-19 response such as the procurement of medical supplies and vaccines under the 2021 General Appropriations Act.

Government economic managers and lawmakers are currently in talks with one another to discuss fund sources for the proposed the pending P340-billion Bayanihan 3.

Last week, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced it is now considering austerity measures to ensure the government will have the needed funds for Bayanihan 3.

The DBM has yet to submit the recommendation to the Office of the President so it could be considered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“I am still waiting for additional advise from Sec. Wendel Avisado because it is his office, who announced of the austerity strategy for additional aid [for Covid-affected people,” Roque said.

Avisado earlier said the austerity measures will cover “non-essential items and programs” of the government.

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