House OKs Bayanihan 3 bill on 3rd reading

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) - The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the third version of the Bayanihan bill or COVID-19 stimulus package worth ₱401 billion.

House Bill No. 9411 or the “Bayanihan to Arise as One Act”, was approved on a vote of 238-0 with one abstention. A counterpart bill still needs to pass the Senate, where lawmakers said they are in no hurry to tackle the measure.

The House bill allocates ₱216 billion for a ₱2,000 financial aid to be given to all Filipinos in two tranches.

It seeks to provide too a one-time cash subsidy of ₱5,000 to ₱10,000 to households affected by the health crisis in areas under enhanced community quarantine or stricter restrictions.

The Small Business Wage Subsidy will also be expanded to assist micro, small, and medium enterprises affected by the pandemic, while a wage subsidy of ₱5,000 to ₱10,000 will be granted to qualified employees.

The Department of Labor and Employment will be given ₱25 billion to help displaced workers, while the Department of Transportation will get ₱500 million to provide free swab tests for seafarers and overseas Filipino workers.

The special risk allowance for medical frontliners will also be continued.

Moreover, the measure seeks to grant the President the power to direct the operation of any hotel, lodging, and other private establishment as quarantine facility, temporary medical facility, or medical relief location. The owner or operator of the private establishment will be given just compensation for the use of their facilities, according to the bill.

The measure is not included in the priority bills that the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council wants Congress to approve as soon as possible. Malacañang also said it does not see the urgency of passing Bayanihan 3.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for his part, earlier told a television interview that the Senate is in no rush to pass Bayanihan 3 as funds under its predecessor, Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, are still available.