June 24, 2021

Duterte will meet with Senate and House leaders to discuss Bayanihan 2 and 3.

On Thursday afternoon, President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with Senate and House leaders to debate the fate of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) and Bayanihan to Arise as One (Bayanihan 3) bills.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the meeting between Duterte and select members of Congress would take place in Malacaan Palace in Manila.

“I can only confirm that there will be a meeting today with senior members of both chambers of Congress to address both Bayanihan 2 and Bayanihan 3,” Roque said in a virtual news conference on Thursday. “Aside from that, I don’t have any further information.”

The House of Representatives adopted the proposed Bayanihan 3 on final reading and the bill proposing to extend the validity of funds under Bayanihan 2 until December 31 on second reading earlier this month.

Bayanihan 2, a fiscal stimulus package aimed at aiding different industries affected hard by the coronavirus illness 2019 (Covid-19), is set to expire on June 30 this year.

The proposed Bayanihan 3 budget, on the other hand, allocates PHP401 billion for the Covid-19 response and recovery efforts, which are based on economic inclusiveness and communal development.

Senator Francis Pangilinan has urged the government to use the unspent money under Bayanihan 2 to obligate the funds.

Roque previously stated that PHP18.4 billion from the Bayanihan 2 was still uncommitted.

The Filipino Nurses United has also asked the government to put aside unused money from Bayanihan 2 for healthcare worker compensation.

The unobligated Bayanihan 2 money, according to Roque, may be utilized for medical front-liners.

“That is, in reality, a possibility. It is not implausible because ang naging posisyon po ng (because the stance of the) Executive Secretary is that we will find funds to cover the potential wage increase,” Roque added.

Roque was referring to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea’s June 1 decree, which increases the entry-level nurse’s pay grade from Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 15.

The memorandum was issued in accordance with a Supreme Court decision issued in October 2019 that established the basic salary for nurses in government institutions at Salary Grade 15, as stipulated by the Philippine Nursing Act.

Because Congress has plenary legislative authority, Roque believes “anything is possible.”

“Posible po na magkaroon ng supplementary financing sa pamamagitan po ng Bayanihan 3 o di naman kaya,” he added.

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