Diokno on fate of Bayanihan 3: 'There's still money floating around'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — Like other government officials, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno sees no need to rush the passage of the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, or Bayanihan 3.

"My thinking on Bayanihan 3 is there is still a lot of money floating around for Bayanihan 2 and we are already on the verge of preparing the 2022 budget," Diokno told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday.

Diokno stressed that what matters more is the utilization of the budget that is already available under the Bayanihan 2 (Bayanihan to Recover as One Act), which Congress will still vote to extend by next month. Deliberations on the proposed 2022 General Appropriations Act will also start in a few months' time.

He also said that apart from the cash assistance being provided to the poor under the government's stimulus package to cushion the effects of the pandemic, the government has also been trying to generate more employment opportunities for Filipinos under the Duterte administration's Build, Build, Build program.

"I think it's not the Bayanihan 3 that is at stake. It’s spending what has already been appropriated," Diokno added.

The House of Representatives previously approved Bayanihan 3 on third and final reading, a COVID-19 stimulus package worth ₱401 billion, including a ₱2,000 financial aid for every Filipino.

READ: House OKs Bayanihan 3 bill on 3rd reading 

But Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III recently told The Source that his colleagues want to extend the validity of Bayanihan 2 funds until December 31, 2021, since its rollout has not yet been completed.

Senators will still have to vote for the upper chamber's version of the measure once they resume session on July 6.

Bayanihan 2 was supposed to lapse in December 2020, but Congress voted to extend its validity until June 30, 2021.