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House bill seeks Bayanihan 2 law extension until March 2021

A bill seeking to extend the validity of Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) until March 27, 2021 has been filed in the House of Representatives.

AAMBIS-OWA Party-list Representative Sharon Garin and Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian filed House Bill 8099 to ensure consistent and efficient delivery of assistance to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and also to aid economic recovery.

Bayanihan 2 is set to expire on December 19, 2020, when Congress adjourns for the holidays.

Garin said such move is necessary considering that there was a "substantial delay" in the release of the funds intended to provide assistance to the people through the various programs, activities and projects based on the report presented by the Executive Department to Congress.

The extension bill is seen to give local government units (LGUs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) additional time to complete disbursements intended for COVID-19 response and recovery interventions.

The bill has been pending with the Committee on Appropriations since December 1.

In the Senate, a counterpart bill has been filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

"Upon the enactment of the bill, the availability of the appropriations provided under Section 10 of RA 11494 and Republic Act No. 11465, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act of 2020, including interventions and the automatic appropriations of new programs, projects and activity under Section 4 (rr) of RA 11494, shall be extended until the next adjournment of the 18th Congress on March 27, 2021," the bill's authors said.

Under Bayanihan 2, P140 billion is allotted to different government agencies to address the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

The other P25.5 billion was a “standby fund” dependent on the availability of government revenues, meant for COVID-19 vaccines and financial assistance programs for businesses. —Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News