Senate OKs P140-billion Bayanihan 2 fund
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the Bayanihan 2 bill that provides a P140 billion fund to help struggling sectors cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country continues to reel from the health and economic effects of the crisis.
The Senate voted 22-1 to pass the measure, which Sen. Sonny Angara, its main sponsor, said would allow the government to continue its COVID-19 response.
“With Bayanihan 2, the government would be assured of sufficient funding for the ramped-up testing for COVID-19 and for contact tracing. It will also ensure that our valiant health workers who contract or succumb to the disease will continuously receive financial support,” Angara said.
It would also allow the government to provide assistance to businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, including displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), he said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan was the lone dissenter against the bill, and said he was concerned that the interventions provided for in the measure might not be implemented properly by the Department of Health (DOH) under the helm of Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Duque has to go, said Pangilinan.
“We vote no to additional funding specified in the Bayanihan 2 because we believe that Secretary Duque ought to be fired before billions more are allowed to be released to the DOH,” Pangilinan said.
Of the amount, P50 billion would go to the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Philippine Guarantee Corp. to serve as capital infusion for low-interest loans to micro, small and medium enterprises.
The agriculture sector would get P17 billion for the Plant, Plant, Plant program, which would includes cash subsidies and interest-free loans under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and government financial institutions.
Another P17 billion would be set aside for unemployment or involuntary separation assistance for displaced workers in private health institutions, tourism, culture and arts, creative industries, construction, public transportation, trade industries, and other sectors of the economy.
To help affected members of the transport sector, the Department of Transportation would get P17 billion for the provision of interest rate subsidies and temporary livelihood to displaced workers.
The amount of P15 billion would be set aside for the cash-for-work program and the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers of the Department of Labor and Employment.
The amount of P10 billion would be for the procurement of PCR testing and extraction kits and corresponding supplies and the enhancement of DOH capacities in programs involving elimination and control of other diseases.
The tourism industry would get P10 billion through the Department of Tourism for assistance to the critically impacted businesses.
The amount of P3 billion would be used to assist state universities and colleges for the development of smart campuses to implement the flexible learning modality.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority would get P1 billion as additional scholarship funds for its training for work scholarship program and special training for employment program for displaced workers, including returning OFWs.
The Bayanihan 2 bill continues several programs under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which ceased to be effective last month.
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