De Lima calls for extension of Bayanihan 2, probe into unused funds
MANILA, Philippines — The Bayanihan 2 law, which expires on June 30, should be extended and an investigation into the unused funds allotted under it should be conducted, Sen. Leila de Lima said in a statement she issued on Wednesday.
Over P18.4 billion allotted under that law for the government’s pandemic response had not been used as of May 31, De Lima pointed out, citing a figure from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“This is something worth condemning because Congress had already extended Bayanihan 2 last year. The enormous unspent amount of P18.4 billion should be not only a cause for concern, but a cause to question, to castigate, to be infuriated,” the opposition senator said.
She added that Congress w now left without a choice but to ask President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session to be able to approve the extension of the Bayanihan 2 Act.
Congress is adjourned sine die until July 25.
Bayanihan 2 has already been extended six months beyond its original expiry date of Dec. 31, 2020.
Last June 3, the House of Representatives passed on second reading a bill to further extend the validity of Bayanihan 2 funds but failed to pass it on third reading before it adjourned.
The senator also mentioned that both Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) must remain transparent about the unused funds.
“Duterte and the IATF should explain why Bayanihan 2 was not implemented properly which was many projects were not done even when there were funds,” De Lima said in Filipino.
“Once again, Duterte has left a mess for both Houses of Congress to clean. After lawmakers spent sleepless nights and exerted effort just so that relief and aid for the country would flow, Duterte did not do his part,” she added.
De Lima also reminded government officials to do their job first before campaigning for the 2022 elections.
“Instead of putting politics and election campaigning first, they should first do their job. Have pity on the people. We are the ones who have to adjust again,” she said.
Two other lawmakers have pushed for the extension of Bayanihan 2 — Albay Rep. Joey Salceda and Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
—SOFIA VERTUCIO, TRAINEE
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