Bayanihan 2 gets final Senate nod
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a measure that would provide for the country’s virus response and recovery plan.
With 22 affirmative votes and one negative vote, senators passed the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as Once Act, or the Bayanihan 2, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to immediately approve the measure.
Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee and sponsor of the Bayanihan bill, said the measure would effectively extend the validity of the government’s COVID-19 programs and interventions under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which has already lapsed in June.
The Bayanihan 2 bill provides for a P140-billion stand by fund which will be appropriated to fund provisions of the law once enacted.
Under the bill, a total of P10 billion will be appropriated for the procurement of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and extraction kits.
The said amount will also be used for the purchase of corresponding medical supplies, including enhancement of capacities in Department of Health (DOH) programs involving elimination and control of other diseases.
The measure also provides for the allocation of P15 billion to the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) cash-for-work program and the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).
A total of P17 billion will also be provided for unemployment or involuntary separation assistance to displaced workers.
These include probationary, project, seasonal, contractual and casual employees in private health institutions, tourism, culture and arts, creative industries, construction, public transportation, trade industries, and other sectors of the economy as may be identified by the DOLE.
Also included in this benefit package are the freelancers, self-employed and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including those whose deployment were suspended due to the government-imposed deployment ban.
Under the bill, a total of P50 billion will be given to government financial institutions (GFIs) as capital infusion for the grant of low-interest loans to micro, small and medium enterprises.
For the agriculture sector, the bill will provide for a P17-billion funding for the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program, including cash subsidies and interest-free loans under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and GFIs.
Another P17 billion will be allocated to the Department of Transportation for the provision of interest rate subsidies and the provision of temporary livelihood to displaced workers.
The measure will provide for a P10-billion funding for assistance to critically-impacted businesses in the tourism industry.
Assistance will also be extended to state universities and colleges for the development of smart campuses to implement the flexible learning modality, according to the bill.
Additional funding will be given to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for its training for work scholarship program and special training for employment program for the retooling, retraining and upskilling of displaced workers, including the returning OFWs.
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