Senate prepares to ratify ‘Bayanihan 2’ on Aug. 20
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is expected to ratify on Thursday the reconciled version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or the Bayanihan 2 bill, which lays out the country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan.
Members of the bicameral conference committee (bicam) will likely finish reconciling the disagreeing provisions of the Senate and House versions of the Bayanihan 2 on Wednesday night, Senator Sonny Angara said during the Senate’s plenary session.
As chair of the Senate finance committee, Angara leads the Senate contingent in the bicameral conference committee.
“Subject to how my colleagues feel, we only have 10 to 12 provisions left,” Angara said.
Among the provisions already agreed upon by the bicam include the P15,000 cash aid to medical frontliners who contract mild infection of the coronavirus, a one-time cash assistance for teaching and non-teaching personnel in private schools, as well as to part-time faculty members in state universities and colleges.
The bicam also approved the funding for COVID-19 testing and loan condonation for agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The lawmakers also agreed to put under the measure the 60-day extension for loan payments during the pandemic and a three-year suspension of permits to build cell phone towers.
“There’s a great possibility of finishing it tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest,” Angara went on.
Before this, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri raised the possibility of ratifying the Bayanihan 2 measure in a quick plenary session Thursday afternoon.
“We can ratify the measure by tomorrow afternoon, we (bicam) will be able to complete discussion by tonight,” Zubiri said.
The senators agreed to holding a session on Thursday. Usually, the Senate only holds its session from Monday to Wednesday.
“We don’t have to wait next week and we would like to show the people that we would like to pass this immediately,” the Senate majority leader added.
The Bayanihan 2 bill, seen to replace the expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, provides for the country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan and allocates funds to help struggling sectors cope up with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the bicam already agreed earlier on a P162-billion funding. However, only P140 billion will be readily available.
Once Congress ratifies the reconciled measure, it will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.
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