Bicam approves ‘Bayanihan 2’ for COVID-19 response, recovery
MANILA, Philippines — The bicameral conference committee on Thursday approved the reconciled version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or the Bayanihan 2 bill, Senator Sonny Angara said.
“We just adjourned and we hope to ratify later,” Angara told INQUIRER.net in a Viber message.
“The total is still [P140 billion] with allotments for various [government] programs to help our affected countrymen and sectors and an additional [P25 billion] standby appropriations,” he added.
The Bayanihan 2 bill, seen to replace the expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, lays out for the country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan and allocates funds to help struggling sectors cope with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Once Congress ratifies the reconciled measure, it will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.
Tourism aid ‘intact’
Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee, said the assistance for the tourism industry and its stakeholders remains “intact and preserved” under the reconciled version of the Bayanihan 2.
Prior to the approval of the measure’s reconciled version, one of the contentious provisions under the Bayanihan 2 was the P10-billion funding for the tourism sector, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in an earlier radio interview.
But after the bicam, Drilon said senators and House lawmakers were able to arrive at an agreement regarding the aid for the tourism industry.
“Tourism sector got [P10 billion],” he said in a message to reporters.
He said that of the P10 billion, P6 billion is earmarked for soft loans for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism sector, and P3 billion will be given to the Department of Labor and Employment for displaced tourism workers.
Meanwhile, P1 billion will be given to the Department of Public Works and Highways for tourism infrastructure.