Senate ratifies Bayanihan 2 bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) - The Senate ratified Thursday evening the Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill which is the government's response to revive the ailing economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Committee on Finance chairperson Sonny Angara, a member of the bicameral conference committee, said both chambers of Congress agreed to a ₱165.5 billion budget to address the effects brought by the health crisis.

The amount consists of ₱140 billion of regular appropriation and additional standby fund of ₱25.5 billion.

The ₱140-billion regular appropriation is broken down as follows:

-₱3 billion for the procurement of face masks, personal protective equipment, shoe covers, and face shields;

-₱4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories, and for the expansion of gov’t hospital capacity;

-Another ₱4.5 billion for Office of Civil Defense or National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council isolation facilities and other requirements including billing of hotels, food and transportation used by COVID-19 patients;

-₱13.5 billion for the DOH to employ emergency Human Resources for Health;

-₱820 million as a fund for Overseas Filipinos under the Department of Foreign Affairs;

-₱13 billion for the government’s cash-for-work program and other support programs for impacted sectors;

-₱600 million as subsidies and allowances for students severely impacted by the pandemic;

-₱300 million as subsidies and allowances to teaching and non-teaching personnel, and party-time faculty in state universities and colleges;

-₱180 million as allowance for our national athletes and coaches;

-₱39.472 billion as capital infusion to government banks, broken down as follows: ₱10 billion for the Department of Trade and Industry’s Small Business Corporation (SBCorp)—₱4 billion of which will be devoted for low-interest loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises, cooperatives, hospitals, and overseas Filipino workers, and ₱6 billion for tourism;

-₱18.4725 billion for the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP);

-₱6 billion for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP); and,

-₱5 billion for the Philippine Guarantee Corporation.

-₱24 billion as assistance to the Agricultural Sector and the Plant, Plant, Plant initiative under the Department of Agriculture ;

-₱9.5 billion in assistance to the Transportation industry;

-₱4 billion for the Tourism industry, and another P100M for tourist guides training and subsidies;

-₱3 billion for the development of smart campuses across the country;

-₱1 billion for Technical Educational Skills Development Authority scholarships;

-₱6 billion for Department of Social Welfare and Development’s assistance to individuals in crisis situations;

-₱4 billion for the Department of Education’s implementation of digital education;

-₱1.5 billion as assistance to local government units, with another ₱2 billion as subsidy for the payment of interest on loans secured by LGUs from government banks;

-₱5 billion for the Department of Interior and Local Government to hire more contact tracers;

-₱2.5 million for the computer-based licensure of the Philippine Red Cross;

-₱10 million for the research fund of the Health Technology Assessment Council, which was created under the Universal Health Care Law;

-₱15 million for UP Diliman’s Computational Research Lab

Under the ₱25.5 billion standby fund, ₱10 billion will be allocated for COVID-19 testing and procurement of vaccines and medicines; and ₱15.5 billion as additional capital infusion to government banks.

The reconciled version of Bayanihan 2 has retained the social amelioration program, which will provide ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 aid to low-income households in areas under hard lockdown as well as households with recently-returned overseas workers.

The bill also mandates ₱15,000 sickness benefit for health workers with mild and moderate COVID-19 infection, and ₱10,000 special risk allowance for both public and private health workers treating infected patients.

The bill sets penalties as well on discrimination against COVID-19 patients and survivors.

The bicam panel also adopted in the bill granting cash assistance to teaching and non-teaching personnel.

Also approved by the panel is a 60-day extension for loan payment.

Bayanihan 2 also eased the permit requirement for all infrastructure projects approved by the National Economic Development Authority. Securing of permits was also eased for telecommunication companies in constructing new cellular sites.

Furthermore, the bill directs public utilities to implement a minimum 30-day grace period for the payment of fees falling due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or modified ECQ without penalties.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte, also a member of the bicam panel, said the House will ratify the measure on Monday next week.

Upon Congress’ ratification, the proposed measure will then be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for final approval.

The first version of Bayanihan Law, or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, earlier gave Duterte the powers to realign the national budget in response to the pandemic.