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Extend Bayanihan 2, solon urges

A party-list solon has underscored the need to extend the effectivity of Bayanihan To Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 as the government continues to address the pandemic.

In filing House Bill 8017, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said that there is a need to ensure the continuity of essential response and recovery interventions.

Nograles expressed concern over the funding provision in the present law might lapse long before an effective COVID-19 vaccine is developed and becomes available to the public.

Before any fund is disbursed for any government purchase, it must be covered by a pertinent appropriation. In the case of RA 11494, the procurement of COVID-19 medication and vaccine has been determined to lapse three months after December 19, 2020.

Nograles wants the deadline extended until December 21,2022 as by then, COVID-19 medication and vaccine should have been fully rolled out for public use.

“The world is now scrambling in tracking the pandemic, administering critical interventions, and distributing vital medical supplies to those afflicted with COVID-19. There are more than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines that are in the phases of clinical trial and testing. If successfully developed, these vaccines may put an end to the spread of the deadly virus at the earliest possible time. The goal of equitable and immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine must be ascertained,” Nograles said.

While there are pharmaceutical companies which have declared that they are already in the advanced stage in their development of an effective vaccine against the COVID-19, it might take a while before these can be administered for mass inoculation, Nograles pointed out.

For good measure, Nograles said the government must have continuous access to funding to ensure that the Philippines will have the money to buy the vaccine without the need of enacting a new “ Bayanihan As One” law.

Republic Act No. 11494 was enacted in anticipation of the commercial availability of the vaccines by the end of 2020.

“While waiting for a safe COVID-19 vaccine, there is a necessity to extend the validity of paragraphs (d), (s) and (cc) of Section 4 and Section 12 of the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” until December 31, 2022 to ensure the continuity of the essential COVID-19 response and recovery interventions,” he added.