Duterte certifies as urgent extended validity of 2020 budget, Bayanihan 2

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent measures seeking to extend the validity of the 2020 General Appropriations Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which are both expiring this month.

Shortly after the Palace’s announcement, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 6656, which seeks the availability of 2020 appropriations until the end of 2021.

A total of 221 lawmakers voted for the extension, while only six were against. This would allow funding for projects that were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the lower chamber also approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 8063, which proposes to extend the effectivity of the Bayanihan 2 law.

A total of 179 lawmakers approved, while six voted against the proposed measure that would make COVID-19 appropriations under the Bayanihan 2 law valid until June 30, 2021.

Bayanihan 2 is set to expire on Dec. 19 when Congress adjourns. With only a few days left, only ₱105.78 billion of the ₱165.5-billion fund for pandemic response and recovery has been released, according to the latest data released by the Budget Department.

Some programs have yet to be implemented, including the grant of COVID-19 special risk allowance to public and private health workers “directly catering to or in contact” with COVID-19 patients. This would be on top of their hazard pay.

Economic managers earlier said an extended Bayanihan 2, along with the 2020 budget, will spur the recovery of the Philippine economy next year. The Philippine economy is in recession following the lockdowns that closed businesses and displaced workers.

Congress recently ratified the proposed ₱4.5-trillion national spending plan for 2021, which includes funds for the purchase of vaccines and subsidies for ailing industries. Duterte is expected to sign it into law by year-end.