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Cayetano: Bayanihan 2 funds to be used for public service, not 2022 ‘campaign kitty’

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday assured Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate that the funds to be allotted under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act will be used for public service.

Cayetano made the remark after Zarate expressed concern that the Bayanihan 2 funds may be funneled to fund the election campaign of possible administration-allied candidates in the next elections.

"Let me assure our good friend, Cong. Zarate, na pam-public service ito. And I think it's in bad taste for anyone to use it for election purposes but also for people to start accusing na yun ang purpose," Cayetano said in an interview with reporters.

Zarate last week urged the national government to fully disclose how it so far spent the P3.7 trillion under the 2020 General Appropriations Act before it can be trusted to spend another P162 billion under the House version of the proposed Bayanihan 2 Law.

He claimed that the proposed measure still does not guarantee full funding for free mass testing particularly to the vulnerable sectors, frontline health workers, and those who came in contact with COVID-19 positive cases.

"This will just concentrate more power and funds to Malacañang," Zarate said.

"Worse it may even be funneled to also fund the campaign kitty of Malacañang's allies for the upcoming elections," he added.

But Cayetano said that as much as progressive lawmakers like Zarate find it unfair to be "red-tagged," so is "election-tagging" of everything the government does.

"Kung sila nagagalit sa red-tagging, I think it's unfair na mag-election-tagging sa lahat. Kasi kahit ano namang programa ng gobyerno, pwede mong sabihin na pwedeng gamitin sa eleksyon," he said.

"But that's not the issue. The issue is whether or not maganda yung mga programa na yun," he added.

The House on Monday approved on third and final reading the proposed Bayanihan 2 Law, outlining P162 billion-worth of response interventions to help the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis and boost the economy.

The Senate on July 28 passed its version of the measure outlining a P140 billion-worth of economic recovery interventions, lower than what the House is proposing. 

To reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the two versions, a bicameral conference committee meeting is set to take place this week before the measure can be ratified by both houses and sent to the President for signing. — RSJ, GMA News