At least P18 billion of the P165.5 billion appropriated under Bayanihan 2 Law remains unutilized, nine months since the law was enacted to rescue the economy battered by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
House committee on economic affairs chairperson Sharon Garin disclosed this Tuesday evening in an interview.
The government, however, only has less than two weeks left before the validity of funds provided in Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Republic Act 11494) expire on 30 June.
Garin, AAMBIS-OWA Partylist representative, explained that there could have been “problems” in implementing the programs mandated by the said law, thus the unspent funds.
“There is the magnitude of programs that they have to implement and the money that has been coursed through all these agencies is quite huge, but that is no excuse,” she said.
“The people need the help now as fast as possible, as efficient as possible. If we don’t help them now, it will be harder for us to help them later,” Garin said.
The solon also believes that holding a special session of Congress is the “wisest thing” to do in order for the House of Representatives and Senate to extend the validity of the law during its session break.
“People need this and we need to extend it. If we can extend it before 30 June, then it is the best thing that could happen. But if not, we can legislate and have it extended up to next year,” she said.
Earlier, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda reiterated his “urgent call” to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez to conduct a special session of Congress in a bid to ratify the extension of the validity of the Bayanihan 2.
Salceda called the extension “a matter of life and death in many communities,” explaining that contact tracers and augmented human resources in rural areas were hired under Bayanihan 2 contracts.
In his aide-mémoire dated 21 June 2021 to the House leadership, Salceda urged Velasco to conduct a special session, saying that there are “dire consequences on public health” if the effectivity of funds will not be extended.