Philippines 'in good shape' ahead of Bayanihan Act expiration, says Duterte spokesman

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2020 12:25 PM

Stranded individuals stay at the at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Gymnasium at the Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City on June 23, 2020 as they wait to return to provinces after their flights were canceled due to quarantine measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines is "in good shape" on the eve of the expiration of a law that gave President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, his spokesperson said Wednesday. 

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, set to expire on June 25, allowed Duterte to realign items under the 2020 national budget and granted him exemption from procurement laws.

The government has delivered safety gear to health workers; bid out 8 million testing kits, of which 1 million already arrived; and prepared ventilators, 50 of which will go to Cebu City which saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said. 
 
"So far, I think we're in good shape... For the immediate future, we have everything we need," he told ANC. "I guess the problem will be in the medium term when the equipment that we have on storage will be used up." 

The Senate earlier this month adjourned session without final approval of a bill that sought to extend the validity of some provisions of Bayanihan Act. 

The bill incorporated a stimulus package, which caused "differences with the executive branch," said Roque. 

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III "does not want the stimulus package to be something we can't pay for," said the Palace official. 

"Negotiations are continuing," he said. 

As of mid-May, the Philippines has secured some $4.55 billion in foreign loans from different financial institutions for its COVID-19 response, according to the Department of Finance.

Of this figure, $1.7 billion was from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and $500 million was from the World Bank, DOF said.

In April, Philippines signed a $100-million loan with the World Bank for government’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, which aims to strengthen the country’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to the threat of the virus.

The loans will enable the country to "a recovery program to gradually jumpstart the economic activities" and "shield the Filipino people against the adverse impact of the pandemic," the DOF had said.

Dominguez earlier said the country "honors its financial obligations" and "will not consider a moratorium" on its debts.