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Romualdez: Duterte to continue pandemic malasakit

Lord Alan Velasco, Martin Romualdez and David "Jayjay" Suarez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez

-As House OKs Bayanihan validity extension

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Tuesday assured the public that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will continue to provide assistance during the pandemic after the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Monday night a bill extending the validity of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 to June 30, 2021.

“This is a malasakit (compassionate) act of the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. President Duterte will be able to continue downloading the assistance to the people affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-19) pandemic,”

Romualdez said after the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading with 179 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and no abstention House Bill (HB) No. 8063, which extends the availability of Bayanihan 2 funds under Republic Act (RA) No. 11494 from December 19, 2020 until June 30, 2021.

House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon Rep. David “Jayjay” Suarez, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, defended the measure in the plenary where he underscored the need to extend its validity as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are consistent to do what is necessary for the people to rebuild the economy and decisively defeat COVID-19,” said Suarez.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco noted that the legislative chamber gave its final approval to the measure just hours after it received a correspondence from Malacañang that it had been certified as urgent by Duterte.

“We cannot agree more with President Duterte on the need to extend the effectivity of Bayanihan 2 in order to accelerate the country’s socioeconomic recovery from the adverse impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Velasco, one of the principal authors of the measure.

Romualdez, House committee on appropriations chairman and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap and House committee on accounts chairman Paolo “Pulong” Duterte are also principal authors of the bill.

Bayanihan 2, which provides for a stimulus package of P140 billion in regular appropriation and P25 billion as standby fund, is set to expire on December 19, with a huge portion of the allocation has yet to be released.

If not extended, the government will have to release the remaining funds by December 19, or else the funds will revert to the Bureau of Treasury.

Velasco said the President’s certification allowed the House to act on the measure with urgency, passing the bill on final reading right after approving it on second reading, thus doing away with the usual three-day gap between the two steps.