MANILA - Several senators on Wednesday backed proposals to extend the validity of the 2020 budget and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) to generate more funds for COVID-19 response programs next year.
Under the law, unused funds under the Bayanihan 2 can no longer be released after December 19, while the the current spending bill will expire by December 31.
"If there is any move to extend that, I am going to support it," Sen. Joel Villanueva said in plenary before the Senate ratified the 2021 budget.
"Our recovery is hinged on our spending next year."
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who earlier filed a bill to extend the validity of the Bayanihan 2 until March 2021, said this was needed to spur spending in the country after the global pandemic delayed the rollout of several projects this year.
"We need all the fiscal space to have a good rebound, swifter recovery," Recto said, adding that he also pushed to extend the validity of some agencies' 2020 budget.
Senate Committee on Finance chair Sonny Angara said Congress would have to work on measures that would delay the expiration of the spending measure next week before the legislative branch adjourns for its holiday break on December 18.
The House is expecting Malacañang to certify the extension measures as urgent so that it can hurdle the legislative mill next week, Angara told other senators in plenary.
"We're planning on consolidating the measures. We have to wait for the passage of the House on third reading,"
"The committee already has a draft measure... We can sponsor it as soon as possible," he said.
Under the law, all spending and tax-related bills must emanate from the House of Representatives before senators can tackle it in plenary.