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Palace lukewarm on Bayanihan III; funds limited

THE third Bayanihan stimulus law proposed by Congress is not necessary for now, the President’s spokesman said, noting the need to allow previous economic packages to run their course as well as the uncertainty of funding another multi-billion peso revival measure.

Sa totoo lang po ang passage ng bills ay also dependent on the availability of funds. So titingnan po natin kung kailangan talaga ‘yan at may possible fund sources (The truth of it is that all bills are dependent on the availability of funds, so we will need to study whether a new round of stimulus is necessary and can be funded),” Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr., said at a televised briefing Tuesday.

Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco and Marikina Representative Stella Luz A. Quimbo earlier filed House Bill No. 8031, which if passed will become the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan III). It provides for a third round of stimulus measures worth P420 billion, significantly larger than the amounts eventually approved for Bayanihan I, signed in March, and Bayanihan II, which became law in September.

Mr. Roque called the current stimulus measures sufficient, including the P4.5-trillion national budget, which is focused on reviving the economy. 

He also noted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte extended the effectivity of Bayanihan II, more formally known as Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. The package, worth up to P165 billion to fund the response to the pandemic, had originally been due to expire on Dec. 19.

Separately, the head of the government’s vaccine procurement and distribution effort, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., said he welcomed measures that facilitate the procurement and import of vaccines.

Iyong mga kailangan po natin na mga law na maipasa para matulungan po tayo na mapabilis po ‘yung pagpunta po dito ng vaccine (What we need right now are laws that expedite the arrival of vaccines),” he said at a televised meeting of Cabinet officials late Monday, in remarks quoted by a Palace statement, in which he thanked Congress for the effort to legislate Bayanihan III. 

He specifically cited provisions in the Bayanihan III bill to indemnify vaccine recipients that suffer from side effects after being administered their shots and to grant vaccine imports tax and duty exemptions. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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