Senate to pass Bayanihan 2 on final reading a day after 5th SONA: Sotto

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2020 09:05 PM

Senate President Vicente Sotto bangs his gavel, signifying the resumption of the plenary session on May 6, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - The Senate will pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill on third and final reading a day after President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his 5th State of the Nation Address on July 27, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.

The Senate failed to pass the Bayanihan 2 in June after the executive branch refused to certify as urgent the measure that would allow the President to realign funds for the coronavirus crisis, and would guarantee government aid in several sectors.

"The following day, we will approve on third reading pending bills, including the Bayanihan 2," Sotto told reporters in an online press conference.

"We will designate members of the bicameral conference to coordinate with the House of Representatives," he said. 

The Senate's version of the Bayanihan 2 repeals a provision of the first Bayanihan law that allows Duterte to take over hospitals and other private facilities during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

It also removes the power of law enforcers to arrest or penalize individuals who violate quarantine policies.

The new measure is expected to authorize the government to spend P140 billion for "a basket of targeted aid to sectors severely impacted by the double whammy of a public health and economic crisis."

The breakdown of the P140-billion standby fund is as follows:

  • Scholarship fund for TESDA: P1 billion
  • Assistance to develop state universities and colleges into smart campuses: P3 billion
  • Procurement of COVID-19 testing kits and related supplies: P10 billion
  • Assistance for tourism sector: P10 billion
  • Cash for work program for informal sector workers: P15 billion
  • Cash aid for displaced workers: P17 billion
  • Cash subsidy and interest-free loans for farmers, fisherfolk: P17 billion
  • Transportation assistance, development of sidewalks and bike lanes: P17 billion
  • Capital infusion to government financial institutions: P50 billion

"The P140 billion will have to suffice," Sotto said, noting that additional government aid may be legislated in separate bills.

"We will load the other necessary funding in the other pieces of legislation asked by the Department of Finance (DOF)," he said.

Other priority bills in the Senate's second regular session are the Medical Scholarship Act, Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority Act, Hybrid Election Act, Anti-False Content Act and the 14th Month Pay law.