Duterte signs ₱165.5-billion Bayanihan 2 law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which provides for a ₱165.5 billion fund for pandemic response and recovery.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go announced the signing on Friday. The measure was ratified by the Senate on August 20, followed by the House of Representatives a week later, as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also confirmed the news later on.

"We consider the Bayanihan II crucial in our efforts to gradually re-open the economy, support businesses and revitalize growth as we make our country resilient to COVID-19," said Roque in a statement.

The stimulus plan consists of ₱140 billion worth of regular appropriations and an additional standby fund of ₱25.5 billion.

House Minority Leader Benny Abante urged for an oversight committee to guard the use of the funds.

The Department of Health will receive ₱3 billion for additional face masks, personal protective equipment, shoe covers, and face shields, alongside ₱13.5 billion for emergency employment and compensation of health workers.

The law also sets aside ₱4.5 billion for the construction of temporary isolation and quarantine facilities as well as the expansion of existing public hospitals.

Some ₱4.5 billion is also allotted for the Department of National Defense to cover expenses in isolating and treating returning overseas Filipino workers who test positive for COVID-19. A separate ₱820 million fund is given to the Department of Foreign Affairs for repatriation efforts.

Another ₱13 billion will be used to aid displaced workers through cash-for-work and other forms of assistance, while ₱6 billion will be given to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for cash assistance in areas under lockdown.

A total of ₱5 billion will be used to hire and train some 50,000 contact tracers. A ₱10 billion fund will be on standby for COVID-19 testing and purchase of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines once they become available.

The measure also provides the following subsidies to other sectors:

- ₱39.472 billion as capital infusion to government banks to allow them to extend more loans, especially to small firms;

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

- ₱9.5 billion for the Department of Transportation to assist businesses critically affected by the pandemic

- ₱4.1 billion for the tourism industry, which includes ₱100 million for the training and subsidies to tour guides;

- ₱4 billion to the Department of Education for the implementation of blended learning

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

- ₱2 billion subsidy for the payment of interest on local government loans from state-run banks;

- ₱1.5 billion assistance to local government units

- ₱1 billion for TESDA scholarships;

- ₱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 part-time faculty in state universities and colleges;

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

- ₱15 million for UP Diliman’s Computational Research Laboratory;

- ₱10 million research fund of the Health Technology Assessment Council;

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

The Bayanihan 2 Act requires the President to submit a report to Congress monthly until the end of the year — a departure from the old requirement of a weekly formal report under the first measure or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos and Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.