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House set to approve Bayanihan 2 bill next week

The House of Representatives is set to approve its version of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act next week as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said Friday.

Romualdez was referring to House Bill 6953 which, among others, provides a P10.5-billion budget for the hiring of additional healthcare workers and other medical frontliners.

“The expected third reading approval of Bayanihan 2 is next week,” Romualdez told GMA News Online.

The chamber approved the Bayanihan 2 bill on second reading earlier this week. The Senate, for its part, approved its version last week.

In a statement, House Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte said that the House and the Senate should be able to reconcile the versions of Bayanihan 2 bill for the law to be enacted this month or September.

In the House version of the proposed measure, P162 billion in funding will be provided for the government’s COVID-19 response measures, including some  P10.5 billion to enable the hiring of additional healthcare workers, and provide additional allowances and benefits to medical frontliners.

“This body feels the national government can afford P162 billion,” Villafuerte said.

Other salient provisions of House’s version of Bayanihan 2 include:

  • P12 billion for Department of Social Welfare and Development programs such as Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations, emergency subsidies similar to the Social Amelioration Program for areas on hard lockdown as well as sustainable livelihood programs and supplemental feeding.
  • P10 billion subsidy for the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to cover the expanded COVID-19 testing program and confinement of COVID-19 patients
  • P100 compensation for each health worker infected with COVID 19
  • P1 million compensation for the family of each front liner who dies from COVID-19
  • funds for the implementation of  cash-for-work programs
  • new capital for government financial institutions for provision of credit line to pandemic-hit businesses and low-interest credit facilities for the agriculture sector
  • assistance to the transportation and tourism industries subsidies for educational institutions, teachers
  • students and funds to procure digital tools for online learning
  • assistance for local government units (LGUs), overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), among others.

“We can call this Stimulus 1, but we will definitely need Stimulus 2 and Stimulus 3,” Villafuerte said.

The Philippines, currently on "technical recession," already registered the most number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with 119,460. Of this number, 66,837 recovered while 2,150 died.  —KBK, GMA News