Malacanang withholds ‘urgent’ certification from 3rd stimulus bill

PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte will not certify as urgent the proposed third stimulus law, and will instead work to identify sources of stimulus funds that will not bust the 8.9% budget deficit cap, his spokesman said.

Ang ginagamit natin ngayon ay ang ating budget for 2021 (All we can use now is the 2021 budget),” spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at a televised briefing Tuesday.

Citing Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Mr. Roque said the economic team instead proposes to keep the deficit cap intact, and will work with Congress to find funds that will not cause the government to exceed it.

Mr. Roque said Monday that the government can no longer extend additional assistance to low-income households affected by quarantine restrictions due to lack of funds.

The leadership of the House of Representatives has called on the executive branch to hasten the passage of House Bill No. 8031 or the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, informally known as Bayanihan III.

About P1.7 billion has been disbursed so far by the government’s assistance program for residents of areas affected by the new lockdown, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista said at a televised meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte Monday night.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Benjamin D. Abalos, Jr. has said Metro Manila mayors plan to ask the government to extend the 15-day period for the distribution of the aid.

Mr. Abalos said the local officials are struggling to disburse the financial assistance within the period set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, due in part to concerns about crowd control. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza