Palace says over P18 billion in Bayanihan II funds available

THE PALACE confirmed Monday that over P18 billion from the second stimulus package, known as Bayanihan II, remains unused, following calls by senators to spend the hundreds of billions of pesos allotted for the pandemic response measure before it expires this month.

“Mayroon pa tayong P18.4 billion or 13% na hindi pa nao-obligate (We have P18.4 billion or 13% which has yet to be obligated),” the President’s spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at a televised news briefing Monday.

Legislators have urged the executive branch to spend the remainder of Bayanihan II, authorized by Republic Act No. 11519 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which expires on June 30.

Budget Secretary Wendel A. Avisado said “agencies can utilize” the unobligated funds “at the end of the month.” He said about P123 billion has been obligated under Bayanihan II.

“Overall, including releases charged against the Fiscal Year 2020 General Appropriations Act, about P200.12 billion has been released for Bayanihan II. Obligations amounted to P172.28 billion (86.09%) and disbursements at P135.81 billion (78.83%),” he told reporters in a Viber message.

Mr. Roque said the executive branch will respect the wishes of Congress should it decide to extend the validity of Bayanihan II.

“We respect the wisdom of Congress dahil sila naman po talaga nagbibigay ng polisiya (because they determine spending legislation),” he said.

Mr. Roque said he has yet to receive any information on whether President Rodrigo R. Duterte will call for a special session to extend the law’s validity. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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