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Monday, April 22, 2024

Special session to extend Bayanihan 2 still in limbo

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LAWMAKERS are cool to the call to convene a special session before their July 25 resumption, if only to authorize the extension of the Duterte administration’s Bayanihan 2 program and prevent billions of unspent funds for Covid-19 response from reverting to the Treasury after June 20.

Senator Imee Marcos indicated on Sunday Malacañang is empowered  to remedy the situation on its own, wielding executive prerogative given time constraints.

“Ang lapit lapit na (mag-lapse) duda ko, hindi na aabot sa [The deadline is so close and I doubt there’s time for a] special session,” Sen. Marcos said in a radio interview, adding, “Ang alam ko hindi P18 billion lang, tinatawagan ko nga si Rep.Joey Salceda, talagang mukhang mas malaki dyan [I know that it’s more than P18 billion, and I’m calling Joey Salceda, because I think it’s much bigger].”

She recalled that when senators earlier convened as a Committee of the Whole to assess the status of the  Bayanihan fund, senators were told P170 billion remain unspent. “And then, of the disbursed funds of DBM there remained a balance of P159-billion. This is big. Why don’t they use it? Many people are crying for help and going hungry. They’re pitiful,” she said, partly in Filipino.

The senator said extending Bayanihan 2 “is not quite a big problem for lawmakers. The problem is the time, but President Duterte was very hesitant to call a special session. So, let us see what can be done,” Marcos added.

Asked what agencies were found as having unspent funds under Bayanihan 2, the senator said a list shown to them cited the Departments of Health, Agriculture and Social Welfare and Development topping  the agencies with still-unspent funds.

She added that DTI was provided P10 billion for a loan window for SMEs, but only P3 billon was loaned out. “So, the balance of 70 percent is quite big.”

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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