MANILA - Bayanihan 3, the stimulus package aimed to address economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, is unlikely to be approved at the Senate before it adjourns at the end of this week, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday.
"Bayanihan 3 for this last week might not be able to hurdle it before the Senate...We have barely 4 days and there are a lot on our plate," he told ANC's Headstart.
The measure was approved by the House of Representatives last week. It has a counterpart measure in the Senate authored by Sen. Ralph Recto, but there is at least one glaring difference, said Sotto.
"There are differences and practically there is a very contentious issue in the Bayanihan 3…Kung ilang billions na being proposed for pension (How many billions are being proposed for pension). We don’t feel that it should be included in the Bayanihan 3," he said.
The Senate leader added, the "main reason" that the Senate is not rushing to pass this measure is that funding for Bayanihan 2 is "still partly intact."
"The programmed funds I understand has only been 50 percent of the total allocation and out of the 50 percent that has been allocated, only 70 percent is used," he said.
"Aside from the time constraints, there is difficulty to finish up Bayanihan 2, which we have extended up to the end of the year. Bayanihan 3, with differences from the House and the Senate version, very doubtful in the next 4 days," he added.
Instead, the Senate may take this up after it resumes session on July 26, said Sotto.
Apart from ayuda or monetary assistance, Sotto said the Senate would also like to prioritize allotting P110 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 medication and vaccines. This would include the handling of the coronavirus shots, hiring of health workers, hazard pay for them, and testing and treatment under state insurer PhilHealth.
The Philippine economy remained in recession with gross domestic product contracting 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021. The economy contracted by 9.6 percent last year following strict COVID-19 lockdowns.