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Sotto confident Congress will extend Bayanihan law before session adjourns

The effectivity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act will certainly be extended beyond June, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday.

"'Yung Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, walang kaduda-dua mae-extend namin 'yun. In what form at kung ano ang amendments, depende sa usapan mamaya. Doon pa lang namin matatantiya 'yun," Sotto said in a virtual interview.

He said ways and means committee chairperson Senator Pia Cayetano will be leading the chamber's meeting with the economic managers about the proposed Bayanihan 2 and the corporate tax reform bill.

"Para ito maipasa namin, pagdedebatehan lang namin, either the House or the Senate will adopt each other's version. Kailangan 'yun ang mangyari diyan para 'yun ay maipasa kaagad on third reading," he added.

Further, Sotto said he personally thinks around 23 million families—18 million from the informal sector and five million from the middle class—should continue to receive emergency subsidy in the coming months amid the gradual reopening of some establishments.

"Personal opinion ko dapat ituloy. Ituloy 'yun, hirap eh. Hindi pa madaling makabangon lahat eh, hindi ganoon kadali iyon. Ibigay pa rin," he said.

The Bayanihan law will still have a sunset clause once extended, Sotto assured.

The said measure was passed by Congress through a marathon session on March 23, granting President Rodrigo Duterte authority to realign the government's budget to the national COVID-19 response. It was given an initial effectivity of three months. 

One of the law's key provisions was the P200-billion emergency subsidy to around 18 million low-income families in the country for two months.

On Monday, the Palace said the distribution of the second tranche of the cash aid can already begin.

Most beneficiaries would come from those still living in enhanced community quarantine areas. Household beneficiaries most affected by the continuing restrictions in the operation of certain industries and sectors in areas under a general community quarantine may also be considered for the second tranche.

The first regular session of the 18th Congress will officially adjourn on June 5. — BM, GMA News