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Recto pushes for extension of Bayanihan law, earmarks P600B fund for economic recovery

A bill seeking to extend the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act until September 30 and give President Rodrigo Duterte a P600-billion spending authority for measures aimed at addressing the economic impact of COVID-19 has been filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

Senate Bill No. 1561, filed on May 27, also seeks to grant additional powers to the President to allow provision of 100% wage subsidies for workers in most affected sectors; extend educational subsidies to students and employees of private educational institutions; and impose longer moratorium on payment of loans and utility bills.

Under the proposed measure, the President may also direct the Department of Agriculture to extend assistance to farmers and fisherfolk. He may also mandate the Department of Information and Communications Technology to address the need for digital connectivity and reliable internet amid the pandemic.

A budget component for activities that will usher economic recovery was included in the bill.

This is comprised of a P30 billion budget for emergency subsidy to workers, P20 billion for cash for work programs, P20 billion for the prevention and control of other diseases, P10 billion for large-scale COVID-19 testing, and P70 billion for capital infusion to government banks, P80 billion support for impacted sectors like displaced OFWs and workers in the transport industry, and P20 billion for the agricultural sector.

The bill likewise provides for a P350 billion budget to fund programs and projects that were previously discontinued by the government to finance the initial COVID-19 response.

"This bill seeks to save lives and protect incomes as well as strengthen the resilience of our socioeconomic institutions in dealing with the pandemic," Recto said.

"These interventions are being sought to soften the impact of a projected economic downturn, and to accelerate the socioeconomic recovery of the country," he added.

A similar bill seeking to extend the validity of the Bayanihan law until September 30 was also filed by the Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.—AOL, GMA News