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House OKs proposed Bayanihan 2 on 2nd reading

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, outlining P162 billion worth of response interventions to help the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis and boost the economy.

Voting ayes and nays, the chamber approved House Bill 6953, the House's version of the Bayanihan Law II which President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to work on during his fifth State of the Nation Address.

The measure has been described as the "new and enhanced" version of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which lapsed last June 25.

Under the House-proposed second Bayanihan Law, a P162 billion standby fund will be appropriated and be used to support operations and response measures to address the COVID-19 crisis.

The breakdown of the amount is as follows:

  • P10 billion for PhilHealth COVID-19 Coverage
  • P10.5 billion for hiring of additional Health Care Workers and arrangements for risk allowance, life insurance, compensation, and compensation for death and critical illness
  • P3 billion for purchase of PPEs for frontliners and indigents
  • P4 billion for construction of quarantine and isolation facilities
  • P20 billion for the implementation of cash-for-work programs
  • P51 billion for the infusion of new capital for government financial institutions, to expand credit
  • P20 billion for 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 for subsidies for qualitied students in private tertiary education institutions
  • P300 million for subsidies for personnel of private tertiary education institutions and part-time personnel of state universities and colleges
  • P1 billion for 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 to assist DepEd prepare classrooms for digital education
  • P1.5 billion for assistance for local government units
  • P180 million to finance athletes whose allowances were reduced due to COVID-19
  • P820 million for assistance for DFA programs for displaced migrant workers

Like the first Bayanihan Law, this measure also provides for the grant of a P5,000 to P8,000 subsidy to affected families in the informal sector living in enhanced community quarantine areas whose income does not exceed the applicable regional minimum wage rate.

It also provides appropriate cash for work for displaced workers due to COVID-19, or wage subsidy for employees of affected business in the formal sector amounting to P5,000 to P8,000.

A compensation of P100,000 will also be provided to public and private health workers who have contracted or may contract severe COVID-19 infection in the line of duty, while P1 million will be given to public and private health workers who have died or may die while fighting the pandemic.

This provision will have a retroactive application from February 1 this year.

Further, the measure also includes a provision that waives the requirement of Phase IV trials for COVID-19 medication and vaccines stipulated in the Universal Healthcare Law to fast-track their procurement and distribution.

Once enacted into law, the measure will take effect in full force only until December 31 this year.

In an interview with reporters earlier in the day, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that despite their limited resources, lawmakers will ensure that subsidies and assistance will be given to target sectors.

"We will make sure that the subsidies, yung mga ayuda, and of course yung cheap loans or mababa na interest para sa mga micro, small, medium enterprise nandiyan," he said.

"We will give authority to the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] to realign and set for infrastructure funds na kailangan na kailangan ng bansa, for testing, for isolation centers and field hospitals, for cure or vaccine if it becomes available, for PPEs and for health workers," he added.

The Senate last week passed its version of the measure, outlining P140 billion worth of economic recovery interventions, lower than what the House is proposing. — BM, GMA News