A senator filed a proposal to extend the availability of funds for COVID-19 response until March 2021.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed Senate Bill 1909 to extend the deadlines of COVID-19 spending until March 27, 2021.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), the government allotted a P140-billion aid package for industries adversely affected by the pandemic, and a P25.52-billion standby fund that it may spend before the 2021 budget takes effect.
The P140-billion budget should be spent until December 19 while the P25-billion standby fund until December 31.
Recto said in his bill’s explanatory note that only P76 billion of the funds were released as of October 29.
If the validity expires on December 19, the remaining P64 billion will be reverted to the general fund.
Of the funds released, the Department of Health (DOH) received the biggest amount of P20.5 billion for, among others, the hiring of health workers, special risk allowances and hazard duty pay to health workers, and augmentation for operations of DOH hospitals.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) took the second biggest, worth P13.1 billion, for various cash-for-work programs.
The Department of Agriculture and three of its agencies (Bureau of Soils and Water Management, Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and National Meat Inspection Service) all got P12.032 billion to support agri-fishery enterprises, farmers and fisherfolk.