THE BAYANIHAN II stimulus package’s fully funded portion, worth P140 billion, has been released in its entirety, the Presidential spokesperson said in a televised briefing Thursday, citing the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The second Bayanihan law, known formally as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Republic Act No. 11494, provided for up to P165 billion in spending items, supported by P140 billion in appropriations and P25 billion contingent on the availability of funds.

Ang kabuuan ng P140 billion ay na-release na po sa iba’t-ibang ahensya (The entire P140 billion has been released to various agencies). As far as the DBM is concerned, P100% released,” Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at the briefing.

Bayanihan II, which took effect in September, was originally due to expire in December but was extended by Congress for six months because disbursements had fallen behind the pace.

A third Bayanihan package is in the works in the House where more than 100 legislators expressed support for House Bill No. 8031, which if enacted will be known as the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act. It calls for another round of stimulus measures worth P420 billion, including P108 billion for cash assistance to families affected by the prolonged pandemic, P100 billion for establishments in critically impacted industries, P70 billion for workers in the agriculture sector, and P52 billion for small businesses.

At the briefing, Mr. Roque said the executive branch will look into another stimulus program once the funds allocated under the 2021 budget and the extended Bayanihan II package are depleted.

Titingnan muna kung kailangan talaga ‘yan. Tingnan muna ang utilization rate ng bawat departamento bago mag-decision kung kailangan talaga (We will study whether a third package is necessary. Among the things we will study is to what extent departments use the funds before coming to a decision if a third round is needed,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Roque added: “We really welcome the filing of this bill para kung kinakailangan ay mabilis na ang proseso (so if we decide it is necessary, things will run faster).”

The Small Business Corp. said a third round of assistance is needed to allow it to extend more loans to small businesses, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Dahil mandato naman ng SB Corp. na i-prioritize ang MSMEs (micro, small, medium enterprises) at bigyan sila ng financing, ‘yung Bayanihan III na pino-propose ay talagang sinusuportahan namin ‘yan. (We support Bayanihan III from the standpoint of our mission to help MSMEs) We look forward to the other financing programs para mas marami pa tayong matulungan (to ensure we help more small companies),” SB Corp. Spokesperson Azel Solano said in a televised briefing Thursday.

Ms. Solano said SB Corp. hopes to extend assistance to 50,000 to 60,000 MSMEs this year via its special financing facility.

Maraming nangangailangan (Many are in need). With the amount of funds that we have, hopefully marami pa ang makapag-apply for loans (I hope many more can apply for loans),” she said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza