President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon to discuss the fate of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) and Bayanihan to Arise as One (Bayanihan 3) bill.

The meeting between Duterte and select leaders of Congress will be held at Malacañan Palace in Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“I can only confirm that there will be a meeting today to discuss both Bayanihan 2 and Bayanihan 3 with leading members of both houses of Congress,” Roque said in a virtual presser on Thursday. “Beyond that, I have no further information.”

Early this month, the House of Representatives approved on final reading the proposed Bayanihan 3 and on second reading the measure seeking to extend the validity of funds under Bayanihan 2 until December 31.

Bayanihan 2, an economic stimulus measure that aims to help various sectors badly hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), is expected to lapse on June 30 this year.

On the other hand, the proposed Bayanihan 3 earmarks PHP401 billion for the Covid-19 response and recovery interventions grounded on economic inclusivity and collective growth.

Senator Francis Pangilinan has called on the government to obligate the unspent funds under Bayanihan 2.

Roque earlier confirmed that PHP18.4 billion under the Bayanihan 2 remained unobligated.

The Filipino Nurses United has also urged the government to set aside the unused funds from Bayanihan 2 for the compensation of the country’s healthcare workers.

Roque raised the possibility that the unobligated Bayanihan 2 funds might be used for medical front-liners.

“That’s in fact possible. It is not improbable dahil ang naging posisyon po ng (because the position of the) Executive Secretary is we will source funding to pay for the prospective salary adjustment,” Roque said.

Roque was referring to the June 1 memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea which raises the salary grade of entry level nurses from Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 15.

The memorandum was in compliance with the October 2019 ruling of the Supreme Court which set the base pay for nurses in government institutions at Salary Grade 15 as provided under the Philippine Nursing Act.

Roque said “anything is possible” because Congress has plenary power of legislation.

“Posible po na magkaroon ng supplemental funding sa pamamagitan po ng Bayanihan 3 o di naman kaya (It’s possible to either have a supplemental funding through the proposed Bayanihan 3 or) further realignment of the funds intended for Bayanihan 2 for this purpose,” he said. (PNA)