Palace wants Bayanihan 2 funds released sooner
Some of the 3,818 beneficiaries of Social Amelioration Program in Brgy. Pasong Tamo in Quezon City line up early morning on May 4, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Palace wants Bayanihan 2 funds released sooner
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - October 20, 2020 - 6:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Tuesday expressed hope that the Bayanihan 2 funds would be released sooner but maintained that the budget could still be used even after the law expires in December.

Some senators have scored the budget department for not releasing most of the funds allocated for programs that would help COVID-19-affected sectors. During a budget hearing last Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said only P6 billion of the P165.5 billion funding under Bayanihan 2 law has been released.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government wants the Bayanihan funds released because they would spur economic activity.

"Of course, we would like ito to be released sooner because the P165 billion will also act as an economic stimulus," Roque said at a press briefing.

Roque also allayed concerns that the Bayanihan 2 may no longer be used after the law lapses on December 19.

"They just need to be spent. But I don't think the expenditure is subject to the expiration of the law because (the budget) has been appropriated and it’s just about to be released. So there would be no problems," the Palace spokesman said.

Citing budget department data, Roque said P2.5 billion has been released to the interior department, P855 million to the Office of Civil Defense, about P104 million to local governments, and P820 million to the foreign affairs department.

The release of P6 billion to the social welfare department and P8 billion to the labor department are awaiting approval by the Office of the President.

Among the items with biggest budget allocations under Bayanihan 2 are the provision of face masks and face shields and construction of isolation facilities (P13.5 billion); cash-for-work program (P13 billion); capital infusion for government banks (P39.47 billion); assistance to the agriculture sector (P24 billion); assistance to the transportation sector (P9.5 billion); assistance for the development of smart campuses of state universities and colleges (P3 billion); social welfare programs (P6 billion); and coronavirus tests, medicines, and vaccines (P10 billion). 

2019 N-COV EMERGENCY POWER NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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