DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to call Congress to a special session to extend the Bayanihan 2 or We Recover as One Law.
“We have to extend the effectivity of the law again so that the government can spend whatever remains of the millions of funds we have appropriated for pandemic response,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the availability of the funds would expire tomorrow, Wednesday, June 30, under the first extension law, Republic Act (RA) No. 11519.
“Unless we pass another extension bill, the unspent funds would no longer be available,” Rodriguez said.
Quoting media reports, he added that more than P18 billion of the P165 billion appropriated by Congress under Bayanihan 2 still had to be disbursed as of last week.
In a press briefing on June 21, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said: “It is correct that we have P18.4 billion or 13 percent that has not been obligated.”
Over the weekend, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced that it has released P9 billion for the special risk allowance of health workers.
Rodriguez said a special session would also give Congress the opportunity to approve the proposed Bayanihan 3 round of financial assistance to the poor and other sectors suffering from the pandemic.
He said although the House of Representatives and the Senate are on their annual mandatory or sine die adjournment, the Constitution empowers the President to call the legislature to a special session at any time.
Bayanihan 3, principally authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, proposed to allocate P401 billion in more financial aid.
The House has already approved the bill on third and final reading before the sine die adjournment.