MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday said he is open to discussions on the proposed Bayanihan 3 Law but stressed that ensuring the effective implementation of previously passed measures to combat COVID-19 is also imperative.
Villanueva issued the statement following calls to have the proposed Bayanihan 3 Law be declared as an “urgent legislation” to curb the present surge of COVID-19 cases and to help alleviate the plight of workers and businesses affected by quarantine restrictions.
“I will support a discussion on Bayanihan 3. But having said that, let me be clear on where I stand on the mess engulfing us: Legislation is not the main solution, executive action is,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said.
Villanueva said the “main cures” to COVID-19 and its effect on lives and livelihood of Filipinos “are not waiting to be legislated, but to be implemented.”
“Case in point is the new COVID-19 Vaccination Law, a great law in need of good implementation,” he added.
The senator also noted that the virus seems to be spreading faster than the release of government aid.
The appropriations authorized under Bayanihan 2 was P165.6 billion and while this has all been released to agencies, Villanueva said that the amount obligated by agencies stood at a low P77.5 billion according to DBM’s February report to the Senate.
“At doon sa P77.5 billion, wala pang kalahati, o P38 billion, ang na-disburse ng mga agencies. Bakit may underspending?” Villanueva asked.
“Underspending is fatal. Budgetary savings will not save lives. Gastusin na po ang dapat gastusin para sa mga tamang bagay,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session of Congress for the immediate passage of the proposed Bayanihan 3.
Congress is on session break until May 17.
“Sakali pong magpatawag ng special session, handa po tayong sumuporta dito alang-alang sa ating mga manggagawa na walang trabaho at sweldo, sa mga pamilyang walang makain, sa mga taong walang-wala,” Villanueva said.
“Hinihikayat po natin ang gobyerno na maging listo at alerto sa pagpapatupad ng mga programang may pondo na sa 2021 National Budget,” he added.