Senator Christopher “Bong” Go joined the calls by other members of Congress seeking the extension of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and the General Appropriations Act of 2020, saying this is necessary to guarantee that the available funds, especially those allocated for the COVID-19 response are properly utilized.
Go asked President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent House Bill No. 8063 which extends the effectivity of the Bayanihan 2 until 27 March 2021, and H.B. 6656 which extends the availability of the 2020 appropriations until 31 December 2021.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported that the Bayanihan 2 Act, which shall expire on 19 December 2020, still has unreleased appropriations.
The legislation, signed last 11 September, provides the resources needed to assist Filipinos adversely affected by the pandemic, boost economic recovery, and strengthen the fight against COVID-19.
It finances various government programs, including the implementation of a cash-for-work program, provision of economic relief to industries, improvement of the national healthcare system, and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, among other interventions.
Additionally, unused funds from the 2020 GAA is also set to be reverted to the National Treasury when the legislation expires on 31 December 2020. Many projects under the 2020 GAA were delayed as a result of the imposition of community quarantine measures earlier this year.
“Kung kaming mga legislators ay nag-overtime para maipasa ang Bayanihan 2 at ang budget noon, dapat mag overtime din ang mga executive agencies para mapondohan at maimplementa ang mga probisyon na nakasaad sa mga batas na ito,” Go said.
Following various calls for the immediate release of the funds, Secretary of Budget and Management Wendel E. Avisado issued marching orders to the DBM to act on all budget requests within 24 hours upon receipt.
At the same time, Go called on concerned agencies to ensure their various programs are fully implemented and also reminded them to immediately release financial aid to intended beneficiaries in accordance with the laws.
Go emphasized that as the fiscal year comes to an end and a new budget for 2021 has been prepared, agencies must ensure that the provisions in Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan 2 and R.A. 11465 or the GAA 2020 are properly implemented.
He added that government support through its various programs must reach the people, particularly those most in need, and that public funds must be spent properly with no amount wasted.
“Nandiyan po ang pondo at sinigurado nating maipasa ‘yang mga batas na ‘yan para makaresponde sa pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Huwag dapat sayangin dahil marami pong kailangan tulungan at umaasa sa serbisyo ng gobyerno,” Go said.
“Siguraduhin natin na makakarating ang tulong sa pinaka-nangangailangan at pinaka-apektado nating mga kababayan…Huwag nating sayangin ang oras, lalo na pagdating sa pangangailangang pangkalusugan. Umaksyon tayo agad dahil bawat minuto, buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino ang nakasalalay,” Go added.ments are complete. He, however, maintained that proper processes must be followed to ensure transparency and accountability in the transactions.
Should the Bayanihan 2 and 2020 GAA lapse within the month, new legislation will be required to give the executive branch the authority to access the funds for its programs and projects.
The two chambers of Congress will adjourn for the holiday season on 18 December and will resume session on 18 January 2021.
“Every single peso counts, especially in times of crisis, and in every minute wasted, lives are at stake. Any delay in the implementation of government programs and aid to affected sectors will be detrimental to the country’s path to recovery,” Go stressed.
“Siguraduhin natin na magagamit ang pera ng bayan ng tama at siguraduhin natin na walang pinipiling oras ang ating pagtulong at pagserbisyo sa bayan,” he added.