House approves Bayanihan 2 bill on final reading

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 05:20 PM | Updated as of Aug 10 2020 05:38 PM

FILE PHOTO: Residents queue during the distribution of cash assistance during Social Amelioration Program in Baseco, Manila on May 7, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The House of Representatives approved on Monday its version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) on third and final reading.

There were 242 lawmakers who voted to pass the measure, with six dissenters and no abstentions.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the measure is a response to the "bigger challenge of remaking our society" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Ang pinag-usapan namin, mag 1-2-3 punch. 'Yung first punch would be the Bayanihan 2. The second punch is to look together for funding for other stimulus programs. And yung third punch, yung 2021 budget. We're just awaiting the submission ng budget," he said.

The Senate last month passed its own version of the bill after President Rodrigo Duterte called for its speedy passage during his fifth State of the Nation Address.

A bicameral conference committee is expected to be convened soon so that a reconciled version can be ratified by both chambers by next week.

Duterte's economic managers are banking on Bayanihan 2 to help resuscitate the economy as the Philippines plunged into recession due to the pandemic.

The bill, a follow-up to the Bayanihan to Heal as One which granted Duterte additional powers to respond to the pandemic, is expected to extend select procurement and budgeting powers reflected in the first Bayanihan package, which expired on June 25. 

The proposed measure would focus on uplifting the tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing industries, Cayetano said.

"We cannot be on survival mode for two years. Kailangan, habang we're saving lives, napu-put natin yung foundation ng new Philippine economy after this," he said.

Among the House version of the bill's salient provisions are:

  • P10 billion – PhilHealth COVID-19 Coverage
  • P10.5 billion – for hiring of additional healthcare workers and arrangements for risk allowance, life insurance, compensation, and compensation for death and critical illness
  • P3 billion – purchase of PPEs for frontliners and indigents
  • P4 billion – construction of quarantine and isolation facilities
  • P20 billion – implementation of cash-for-work programs
  • P51 billion – infusion of new capital for government financial institutions to expand credit
  • P20 billion – low-interest credit for the agriculture sector
  • P10 billion – for programs for the transport sector
  • P10 billion – for tourism development programs
  • P100 million – for training tourist guides
  • P3 billion – for smart, ICT-ready education facilities in state universities and colleges
  • P600 million – subsidies for qualified students in private tertiary education institutions
  • P300 million – subsidies for personnel of private tertiary education institutions and part-time personnel of state universities and colleges
  • P1 billion – additional scholarship funds for TESDA
  • P12 billion – for DSWD programs such as AICS, emergency subsidies for areas on hard lockdown, sustainable livelihood programs, and supplemental feeding
  • P4 billion – assistance for DepEd to prepare classrooms for digital education
  • P1.5 billion – assistance for local government units
  • P180 million – to finance athletes whose allowances were reduced due to COVID-19
  • P820 million – assistance for DFA programs for displaced migrant workers

The bill also provides the following aid mechanisms:

  • Cash subsidy ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 for poor families in areas under enhanced community quarantine
  • Wage subsidy or cash-for-work for displaced workers due to COVID-19 

The House version would have the proposed law be in effect until Dec. 31, 2020.