The Senate on Thursday ratified the reconciled version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 with a P165.5 billion budget in a bid to facilitate economic recovery as the Philippines continues its battle against COVID-19.
According to Senate Committee on Finance chair Sonny Angara, the P140 billion will come from general appropriations while P25.5 billion will serve as a standby authority which can be used once additional government revenues become available.
President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass the second Bayanihan law during his 5th State of the Nation Address on July 27.
The following were appropriated in the "survival and recovery" Bayanihan 2 bill:
P140 billion (general appropriations)
- P3 billion for the procurement of face masks, PPEs, shoe covers, and face shields
- P4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories, and for the expansion of gov’t hospital capacity
- P4.5 billion for Office of Civil Defense or NDRRMC isolation facilities and other requirements including billing of hotels, food and transportation used by COVID-19 patients
- P13.5 billion for the DOH to employ emergency Human Resources for Health
- P820 million as a fund for Overseas Filipinos under the Department of Foreign Affairs
- P13 billion for the government’s cash-for-work program and other support programs for impacted sectors
- P600M as subsidies and allowances for students severely impacted by the pandemic
- P300M as subsidies and allowances to teaching and non-teaching personnel, and party-time faculty in SUCs
- P180M as allowance for our national athletes and coaches
- P39.472B as capital infusion to government banks, broken down as follows: P10B for the DTI Small Business Corporation (SBCorp)—P4B of which will be devoted for low-interest loans to MSMEs, cooperatives, hospitals, and OFWs, and P6B for tourism; P18.4725B for the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP); P6B for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP); and, P5B for the Philippine Guarantee Corporation
- P24B as assistance to the agricultural sector and the Plant, Plant, Plant initiative under the Department of Agriculture
- P9.5B in assistance to the transportation industry
- P4B for the tourism industry, and another P100M for tourist guides training and subsidies
- P3B for the development of smart campuses across the country
- P1B for TESDA Scholarships
- P6B for DSWD’s assistance to individuals in crisis situations
- P4B for the DepEd’s implementation of digital education
- P1.5B as assistance to LGUs, with another P2B as subsidy for the payment of interest on loans secured by LGUs from government banks
- P5B for the DILG to hire more contact tracers
- P2.5M for the computer-based licensure of the Philippine Red Cross
- P10M for the research fund of the Health Technology Assessment Council, which was created under the UHC Law
- P15M for UP Diliman’s Computational Research Lab
P25.5 billion (standby fund)
- P10 billion for COVID-19 testing, and procurement of medication and vaccines
- P15.5275 billion as additional capital infusion to government banks (roughly P9 billion for the LBP and P6.5 billion for the DBP)
Retained in this proposed second Bayanihan law is the P5,000 to P8,000 cash assistance to low-income households. However, Angara said it will be limited to those in areas under "specific quarantine conditions" and to households with recently-returned OFWs.
Under the Bayanihan 1, around 18 million households were entitled to the emergency subsidy.
The bill includes the P15,000 sickness benefit for health workers with mild and moderate COVID-19, and P10,000 monthly special risk allowance for public and private health workers treating COVID-19 patients.
It also mandates one-time cash assistance for teaching and non-teaching personnel in private schools as well as part-time faculty members in state universities and colleges.
A 60-day grace period for the payment of all "existing, current, and outstanding loans," falling due on or before December 31, 2020, irrespective if there is community quarantine or not, will be implemented.
On the other hand, payments of residential and commercial rents, and utility bills falling due within the period of ECQ or Modified ECQ shall also be covered by a minimum of 30-day grace period.
Further, the requirement for certain permits for the installation and operation of telecommunication towers shall be temporarily suspended under this bill in a bid to improve the digital highway in the country.
Once passed into law, Bayanihan 2 will be effective until December 19, 2020 since it is considered an "emergency measure." The authority of the President to realign funds has been retained.
The Office of the President will be required to submit a monthly report to Congress regarding the actions taken pursuant to the bill.
"Hindi na every Monday, monthly na lang 'yung report pero idinagdag natin ang COA (Commission on Audit). That's the request of the executive. They want to show also that they're going to be transparent in the usage of the funds," Angara said.
"Hindi lang sa Congress ang oversight committee as in Bayanihan 1, inexpand pa 'yung reportorial requirements even to the Commission on Audit they must report," he added.
It is expected to be transmitted to Malacanang next week. Once signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and published, Bayanihan 2 will no longer require implementing rules and regulations for it to be carried out, according to Angara. —LDF, GMA News