House eyes extension of Bayanihan 2 validity
MANILA, Philippines — House leaders are planning to hasten the approval of a bill that would extend the validity of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) to enable the government to complete the release of the P140-billion fund meant for pandemic measures even beyond the law’s original deadline of Dec. 19.
Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said in a statement on Sunday that Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto had already filed a similar bill at the Senate, seeking to extend the deadline to March 27, 2021.
“We need to hit the ground running and make full use of this year’s remaining sessions to tackle and pass the priority measures, especially those that have been certified urgent by President Duterte,” Romualdez said, four weeks before Congress adjourns for a monthlong break.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco himself confirmed that the House leadership was focused on hastening the “approval of a number of must-pass bills” on the resumption of session on Monday.
“We are working with our House leaders in finding ways to fast-track priority measures that will ensure a more efficient and responsive government during these trying times,” Velasco said.
He said the passage of the 2021 general appropriations bill before the end of the year “remains the top priority of the House.”
The 2021 budget can be considered an election year budget because election rules prohibit the disbursement of funds for public works starting March 25, or 45 days before the election on May 9, 2022.
Aside from the spending law, Velasco said amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla), the proposed Internet Transactions Act, and the proposed Magna Carta of Barangay Workers were also high on the House agenda.
Other priority measures are the proposed changes in the Coconut Levy Fund; the National Land Use Act; the Rightsizing the National Government Act; the Right to Adequate Food; the Anti-Ethnic, Racial and Religious Discrimination Act; and the On-Site, In-City, Near-City Local Government Resettlement Program.
Duterte had earlier certified as urgent House Bill No. 6174, which would amend the Amla.
The bill is now up for second reading, after it was approved by the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries in October.
Velasco said the swift passage of the proposed Internet Transactions Act, which was approved by the House committee on trade and industry during the recess, was “necessary to protect consumers, especially with the increase in online transactions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”
He vowed to ensure the swift passage of economic bills that would “jump-start the economy and help the country rise above the devastating effects of the pandemic.”
“All these economic measures would go hand in hand with bills that will address systemic corruption in government,” he said.
“Both are equally important in helping the country get back on track, especially in the last two years of the Duterte administration,” he added.
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