MANILA - An undisclosed amount of appropriations in Bayanihan 2 had been returned to the Bureau of the Treasury, President Rodrigo Duterte said, as the government continued its "new normal" COVID policy.
Duterte however appealed to the lawmakers to not use the untapped funds, as this could still be used to respond to future COVID-19 surges.
"So sabi ko nga ‘yung Bayanihan, nagtatanong na hindi pa naubos, sinauli na sa Treasury. Pero ganito ‘yan eh sana huwag na lang galawin ng Congress. If they want to legislate it, so be it," Duterte said in his taped address to the nation aired on Tuesday morning, without disclosing how much was returned.
(I said the Bayanihan, some asked why the funds there are still unused. The funds were already returned to the Treasury but I hope the Congress won't touch it.)
"Huwag galawin ‘yan kasi that is in preparation for another surge of another variant. Nagmu-mutate itong monster na ito and hindi natin malaman kung ano talaga ang katapusan nito. But I guess it would be there or here for the longest time.
(Don't use it because that is in preparation of the next surge. We don't know when this will end.)
This comes amid the Commission on Audit's report that some P5 billion for loans to micro, small and medium enterprises remain unused under Bayanihan 2 as of mid-2021.
The Bayanihan 2 or Bayanihan to Recover as One Act was extended only until June 30, 2021.
Malacañang did not say how much exactly was returned and also deferred the question to the National Treasury.
"Kung magkano yung kabuuang halaga na 'yon, bawat ahensya, bawat departamento ay may sinauli na pondo. Most of the departments and agencies at least," he said.
(Every agency returned the unused funds.)
The Bayanihan 2 is the government's second relief response to address to the country's health and economic problems caused by the respiratory disease.
Government earlier said the measure was important to support businesses hit by the pandemic, strengthen the health sector, and boost the country's virus response as the economy gradually re-opens.
Video from PTV