MANILA — The government has yet to utilize some P18 billion in funds for the Philippine COVID-19 response under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) that will expire by the end of the month, Malacañang confirmed on Monday.
Quoting the budget department, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said P123.2 billion or 87.01 percent of the Bayanihan 2 funds have been "obligated."
"Tama po na mayroon pa tayong P18.4 billion or 13 percent na hindi pa nao-obligate," he said in a press briefing.
(It is correct that we have P18.4 billion or 13 percent that has not yet been obligated.)
He did not say why.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has pushed for a "special session" while Congress is in recess so that the validity of the Bayanihan 2 could be extended.
He warned that when the legislated funding expires on June 30, so would the budget for COVID-19 contact tracers hired under Bayanihan 2, among others.
Roque said he would ask Duterte later Monday about whether or not he also call for a special session.
"We respect po the wisdom of Congress dahil sila naman po talaga ang nagbibigay ng polisiya (because they issue the policy)," he added.
Congress went on recess last June 5 and would resume its session when Duterte delivers his sixth and last State of the Nation Address on July 26.
The Philippine government in 2021 worked with 3 major fund appropriations, including this year's national budget, the 2020 budget whose validity was extended until Dec. 31, and the Bayanihan 2 which was first extended until June 30.