Drilon: Realign 2021 budget to fund Bayanihan 3

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is pushing for realignments in the 2021 budget as lawmakers work on passing another COVID-19 stimulus package that is also facing funding issues.

Drilon told CNN Philippines' The Final Word that the only way to provide funds for the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or Bayanihan 3 is through realigning some items under this year's national budget.

"Our analysis of the budget would indicate that there are number of projects which you can defer to next year and use the funds for the items that would basically provide assistance," he explained, adding that the current budget "was not crafted in response to the pandemic."

Some billions of pesos had to be borrowed just to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, but the ₱19-billion allocation for anti-insurgency programs was easily released, he added.

Drilon also said some assets can also disposed of like the Bilibid prison, while military camps in Metro Manila can be moved so these assets may be used to generate additional cash.

"It needs about P400 billion... but we need to look for funds and to me the only way is to review the 2021 Genera Appropriations Act and realign those items in the budget which can be postponed," he reiterated.

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the stimulus package amounting to ₱405.6 billion. The draft measure proposes to allot ₱216 billion for cash aid in order to give 108 million Filipinos - regardless of social status - a total assistance of ₱2,000 each.

RELATED: Each Filipino may get ₱2,000 'ayuda' under the proposed Bayanihan 3, solon says

This also seeks to allocate ₱30 billion to the Social Welfare Department for another financial assistance of up to P10,000 per household with a member who caught COVID-19.

The Labor Department will be given ₱25 billion to help displaced workers and ₱20 billion for wage subsidies, while some P30 billion will be set aside for the agriculture sector.

For the Education department, ₱5.6 billion will be used to provide teachers and students with gadgets or internet connectivity needed for distance learning. Some ₱54 billion will also be allocated for the pension of retired military and police officers.

The substitute bill for Bayanihan 3 still needs to be forwarded to the House Appropriations Committee before it undergoes plenary debates. Sessions in the House and Senate will resume on May 17.