MANILA - Senate Committee on Finance chair Sen. Sonny Angara on Friday said he was open to inserting an amendment in a provision of the Bayanihan 2 bill to give all health workers stricken with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a P100,000 cash grant from the government.
This as only those who had fallen "severely" ill from the disease are entitled to receive such compensation from government under the lapsed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. The same law, which ceased effectivity in June, granted a P1-million benefit for medical workers who died of the disease.
"Puwede ho natin iamyenda 'yun," Angara told Teleradyo's Failon Ngayon.
(We can amend that.)
"Tanggalin na ho natin siguro 'yung salitang 'severe' para dumami 'yung magbenepisyo," he said.
(We can remove the word "severe" so that more can benefit from it.)
Angara, a COVID-19 survivor, said that the Department of Health has enough funds to grant the P100,000 to health workers who were infected while attending to patients with the disease.
Under the Bayanihan Act, the President is authorized to reallocate government funds for COVID-19 programs.
Congress plans to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill to extend the President's special powers while the COVID-19 crisis persists.
Without the Bayanihan bills, the executive needs to keep on asking for Congress' approval before it could realign funds needed to contain the spread of the disease, which threatens the health of the population and the economy.
Amendments can only be made through the bicameral conference as the Senate has already passed the Bayanihan 2 on second reading last month before the chamber adjourned for a 2-month break, Angara said.
The Senate is now waiting for Malacañang to call a special session so that Congress can convene and pass the Bayanihan 2 bill, he said.
"Matagal na ho namin naririnig 'yan pero wala pa pong definite. Petsa na lang po siguro ang iniisip," he said.
(We have been hearing that they would call for a special session but there are no definite plans yet. Maybe they are still thinking of a date.)
"Handa po ang Senado. Matagal na pong handa ang Senado," he said.
(The Senate is ready. The Senate has been prepared for this for a long time.)