Duterte asks Congress to pass Bayanihan 2

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 27) - President Rodrigo Duterte urges Congress to pass the second version of the Bayanihan Law to speed up the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte thanked lawmakers of both chambers for the immediate passage of Bayanihan 1 or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” which gave him special powers to realign the national budget in response to the pandemic.

The President is now asking Congress to give Bayanihan 2 or “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” the same treatment and priority as the first law.

“This health emergency stretched the government’s resources to its limits,” said Duterte. “I hope that they can [give] the same treatment of clarity, purpose, and the fastness to support the passage of ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One’ Act, which are supplement funds for recovery and response against the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.”

Bayanihan 2 would earmark P140 billion for various socioeconomic and health programs as part of the government’s recovery plan amid the pandemic.

The Senate already assured recently that it would approve Bayanihan 2 on third and final reading after Duterte’s SONA.

Moreover, Duterte also asked lawmakers to fast-track the passage of economic measures such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act and the Financial Institution Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act to help provide aid to the economy.

CREATE Act, formerly known as Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA), reduces the corporate income tax rate from the current 30 percent to 25 percent.

Meanwhile, FIST allows banks and other financial institutions to transfer bad loans to asset management companies.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Rico Hizon on Monday, Senator Richard Gordon guaranteed there will be enough funds allocated for the Bayanihan 2 Bill.

“The problem is in the implementation. Are people receiving the money?” said Gordon, implying the social amelioration program should be given to those in the vulnerable sector who truly deserve such emergency aid.

Gordon added he hopes the Bayanihan 2 Bill will be clearer in implementing the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as equal distribution of test kits and priority for those who needed to be tested of the virus.

“It’s kind a hazy right now,” the senator noted how the government acts on the pandemic.