BREAKING: House approves Bayanihan 2 on final reading
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, or the Bayanihan 2, to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to the country.
With 242 affirmative votes, six negative, and no abstention, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 6953, which would provide Filipinos with various forms of relief during the pandemic.
The bill seeks P162-billion standby funds that will be used “to support operations and response measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic” which includes emergency subsidy to workers, cash-for-work programs, prevention and control of other diseases, support programs for impacted sectors, and support for the agricultural sector.
Under the House version of Bayanihan 2, a P162-billion fund will serve as an economic stimulus and will be allocated for the following, among others:
- P10 billion subsidies to the National Health Insurance Program to be used exclusively to cover COVID-19 expanded testing and for allocation for COVID-19 confinements;
- P10.5 billion allocated to the Department of Health for continuous employment of existing emergency Human Resource for Health (HRH) and additional emergency HRH hiring
- P3 billion for procurement of face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, shoe covers and face shields to be provided to all barangay health workers, barangay officials, and other indigent persons that need protection
- P4 billion to finance the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories for frontlines and for the expansion of government hospital capacity all over the country
- P20 billion for the implementation of appropriate cash-for-work programs for displaced workers
- P51 billion for the infusion of capital to government financial institutions
- P 20 billion to provide direct cash or loan interest rate subsidies in the agriculture and fisheries sector and to finance the Plant, Plant, Plant Program ensuring food security and continuous productivity in the agricultural sector including accessibility through farm to market roads
- P10 billion to finance programs of the Department of Transportation to assist the critically affected businesses in the transportation industry, including the provision of temporary livelihood for displaced workers
- P10 billion to finance programs of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority to assist the recovery of the tourism industry
- P100 million to finance the training and subsidies for tourist guides
- P3 billion to assist state universities and colleges in the development of smart campuses through investments in ICT infrastructure, acquisition of learning management systems and other appropriate equipment to fully implement flexible learning modalities, including the provision of loan interest rate subsidies
- P600 million for subsidies and allowances to qualified students of public and private Tertiary Education Institutions;
- P300 million for subsidies and allowances of affected teaching and non-teaching personnel, including part-time faculty, in private and public Tertiary Education Institutions including part-time faculty in SUCs;
- P1 billion as additional scholarship funds of TESDA under its Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) and Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) for the retooling, retraining, and upskilling of displaced workers including returning OFWs; as well as provision of tool kits under the (STEP);
- P12 billion to finance DSWD programs, such as but not limited to: Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), Emergency Subsidy to cater for areas which will be placed on hard lockdown, Sustainable Livelihood Program for informal sectors not being catered by DOLE, distribution of food and non-food items, livelihood assistance grants, and supplemental feeding program for daycare children;
- P4 billion to assist the DepEd in the implementation of Digital Education, Information Technology (IT) and Digital Infrastructures and Alternative Learning Modalities;
- P1.5 billion as assistance to Local Government Units (LGUs);
- P180 Million to finance the allowances for National Athletes and Coaches whose allowances were reduced to 50% due to the pandemic;
- P820 million for the augmentation of the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Migrant Workers Affairs 2020 Assistance-To-Nationals Fund for repatriation-related expenses, shipment of remains and cremains of Overseas Filipinos (OFs) who passed away due to COVID-19, medical assistance of OFs, and other assistance that may be provided for OFs who are affected by the pandemic.
The Senate has earlier approved its own version of the measure. With both houses approving the measure, the bicameral conference committee will settle the disagreeing provisions of the bills.
In his State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to pass the Bayanihan 2 to help speed up the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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