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House gives final OK to proposed Bayanihan 2 Law

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 outlining P162 billion-worth of response interventions to help the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis and boost the economy.

With a vote of 242 in the affirmative, six in the negative, and zero abstentions, the chamber approved House Bill 6953, the chamber's version of the Bayanihan 2 Law which President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to work on during his fifth State of the Nation Address.

Under the House's version of the 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

Similar to the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, this measure provides for the grant of 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.

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 would be fully in effect only until December 31 this year.

In a speech before the approval of the measure, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano described the proposed Bayanihan 2 law as "the Filipinos' loud and clear shot across the bow of this climate of uncertainty and despair."

"Kailangan malinaw yun na itong Bayanihan to Recover As One ay magbibigay ng pag-asa sa maraming nawalan ng trabaho at sa maraming negosyo na nagsasara," he said.

"We want Bayanihan 2 to be a living piece of legislation that will empower our industries and revitalize sectors of society that we have been decimated by the virus," he added.

Apart from outlining programs geared at uplifting the lives of Filipinos amid the pandemic, Cayetano said the proposed law is "a reaffirmation of the spirit of cooperation and community that our race is famous for."

"Bayanihan is about Filipinos helping Filipinos. It is about reaching across geographic and political divide. It is about hope in the darkest moments and most desperate places," he added.

Last July 28, the Senate passed its version of the measure which outlined P140 billion-worth of economic recovery interventions - less than the House's proposal.

To reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the two versions, a bicameral conference committee meeting is set to take place this week before the measure can be ratified by both houses and sent to the President for signing. — GMA News