Passage of ‘Bayanihan 2’ is Senate’s top priority once session opens — Sotto
MANILA, Philippines — The approval of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2, on the third and final reading will be the Senate’s top priority once session opens after the measure was left hanging when Congress adjourned sine die in June, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Speaking with reporters during a virtual interview, Sotto said the Senate will pass the bill “as it is” when the chamber approved it on second reading before the session adjourned.
“Doon sa Bayanihan 2, do not expect that the original proposal of the Executive Department noong bago namin ipasa on second reading, ay maa-accomodate, hindi na siguro,” he said.
(Under Bayanihan 2, do not expect that the original proposal of the Executive Department before we passed the measure on second reading will be accommodated; it’s not likely).
“We will just allow Bayanihan 2 to stand as it is with some minor amendments,” he added.
The second regular session of the 18th Congress will open a few hours before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.
The day after Duterte delivers his SONA, senators will approve the Bayanihan 2 on third and final reading, Sotto said.
The said measure, which is eyed to replace the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that already expired in June, provides for the country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan and a P140- billion standby fund.
On the other hand, the House of Representatives’ version of the bill, which was only passed on first reading, proposes a P162-billion standby fund to “support operations and response measures” to COVID-19.
“We will approve on third reading the bills that have been pending and number one there would be the Bayanihan 2. Bayanihan 2 will be approved on third reading,” Sotto said.
He would then designate senators to make up the Senate contingent for the bicameral conference committee with the House of Representatives, where lawmakers from both chambers of Congress will meet to consolidate the disagreeing provisions of the two bills.
“The Executive Department will be present and anything that has been taken up by both Houses may be incorporated in the bicam kung napagusapan,” he said.
“Doon pwedeng mapagusapan yung mga maaaring sa tingin nila ay kulang sa Bayanihan 2 or pwedeng alisin yung sa tingin nila ay sobra,” Sotto added.
(It is during the bicam when lawmakers can either add to or omit from the measure).
Other priority measures
Meanwhile, Sotto said the Senate will also prioritize bills that are already in the period of interpellations.
Among these measures, he noted, include the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA), the proposed Expanded Solo Parents Act, and the coco levy fund bill.
“Of course the Medical Scholarship Act, which is a top priority as far as I am concerned, and the Citizens in Service Training Act, the Department of Disaster, the amendments to the Public Service Act, the Agrarian or Agricultural Credit Cooperative Condonation Act. There are other priorities, but these are the ones that are on top of the list,” he added.
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