MANILA - The Senate version of the Bayanihan Act 2 will still give President Rodrigo Duterte the power to realign funds but under very concrete and specific prescriptions, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros.
“Meron kaming ina-identify talaga na basic sectors at mga micro, small, medium scale enterprises which must be the object of these funds in order to save lives, in order to save jobs,” Hontiveros said on ANC’s Headstart.
Hontiveros said the Senate version is more of a relief bill and not an extension of the first law crafted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Medyo binabawi namin 'yung power of the purse which under the Constitution, Congress at doon sa sa Bayanihan law, 'yung old law, ay isinuko namin 'yang power of the purse just to help the Office of the President address the COVID-19 pandemic. So were taking that back under the Senate version of the Bayanihan Law 2,” she said.
The Senate adjourned session last week without final approval of the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, or Bayanihan 2 which allows the government to disburse cash aid during the coronavirus crisis.
Malacanang said the Bayanihan law is effective until June 25, 2020.
“We did say last week that we are open to being called by the President to a special session para matapos namin 'yung relief bill, 'yung Bayanihan 2, and kasabay ng special session na yan if ever it happens pwede rin yung dapat na gagawin naming audit kasi saan ba nanggaling ang mga perang ginastos—the P300-billion plus spent for Bayanihan 1, and were they spent properly,” said Hontiveros.
She also called for an audit on how the executive branch spent public funds and cited the questionable purchase of overpriced PPEs, testing kits and other equipment by the Department of Health.
“Ang tanong ng taong bayan: Anyare? And that’s what an audit is supposed to report to the public about. When you think about how these things happen, baka yung mga masyadong mahal na PPEs etc., only the tip of the iceberg. Baka there might be even more for us to audit,” she said.