House OKs P 162-B Bayanihan 2 bill in landslide vote
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives passed the P162-billion Bayanihan to Recover as One bill in a landslide vote on Monday in hopes of stimulating the economy during the pandemic-fueled recession.
The 302-member chamber approved House Bill No. 6953 by a 242-6 vote. The measure, however, will have to be reconciled with the version passed by the Senate in July, which proposes a standby fund of only P140 billion, P22 billion lower than the House.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano described the House bill as a “reaffirmation of the spirit of cooperation and community that our race is famous for.”
“Bayanihan 2 is about Filipinos helping Filipinos … It is about reaching out, reaching across geographic and political divides. It is about hope in the darkest times and most desperate places,” he said.
Cayetano also took the occasion to attack government critics who “wish nothing more than that this government shall fail.”
But opposition lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc said there must be full accounting of the first iteration of the Bayanihan law, referring to Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, before the passage of the Bayanihan 2.
The earlier law gave President Duterte wide latitude to realign P370 billion worth of funds, including P200 billion for the emergency cash aid program.
Fund diversion feared
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate earlier expressed fear that without a proper audit, the money could be diverted to other purposes, including the campaign chests of administration candidates in the 2022 polls.
The bill allocates P10 billion for COVID-19 health insurance coverage, P51 billion for capital infusion to government lending institutions, and P20 billion for the cash-for-work program.
It also earmarks P20 billion for low-interest credit for the agriculture sector and P10.5 billion for the hiring of additional health-care workers and arrangements for risk allowance, life insurance, compensation, and compensation for death and critical illness.
Another P3 billion will be used to purchase personal protective equipment for front-liners and indigents.
It also provides for a compensation benefit of P100,000 to health-care workers infected with COVID-19, as well as P1 million to the family of each front-liner who dies from the illness. INQ
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