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House eyes to ratify ‘Bayanihan 2’ on Aug. 24

/ 06:02 PM August 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is eyeing to ratify the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act or “Bayanihan 2” on Monday, August 24, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.

This comes after the bicameral conference committee, headed by Villafuerte and Senator Sonny Angara, settled the disagreeing provisions in Bayanihan 2, which seeks to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

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READ: Bicam approves ‘Bayanihan 2’ for COVID-19 response, recovery

“After 3 days of marathon sessions with our senate counterparts, we finally approved the reconciled final version of the Bayanihan 2 or the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act this afternoon. The House will ratify on Monday and the Senate this afternoon,” Villafuerte said in a text message Thursday.

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Villafuerte said there were several contentious provisions that stalled the final approval of the measure, but these were eventually resolved.

“It was difficult and tough to accommodate all the critically impacted sector with a limited amount we were working on,” Villafuerte said.

“We finally agreed to approved the amount of P165-B which we all felt was not enough, but this was what was available now,” the lawmaker added.

Villafuerte said among the salient provisions of Bayanihan 2 are as follows:

  • Authority to reprogram and realign funds to fund the purchase of PPEs, the establishment of isolation facilities, field hospitals, vaccines/cure, testing, and subsidy for COVID-19 positive patients.
  • Authority for LGUs to realign local funds for COVID-19 response.
  • Authority for LGUS to increase their personnel services cap to enable them to hire more personnel for COVID response and recovery.
  • Direct the use of unutilized Municipal Development Fund for COVID-19 response.
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Labor and Employment allowed through an MOA to transfer funds to the LGUs for assistance programs.
  • Issuance of guidelines on the establishment of private isolation and quarantine facilities of private enterprises.
  • Direct the discontinuance of unutilized automatic appropriations for debt service to allow more liquidity
    60-day grace period for payment of loans.
  • Loan term extensions or restructuring shall be enticed to regulatory relief and is exempt from Documentary Stamp Taxes.
  • Encourage Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to relax regulatory and statutory restrictions and requirements for one year.
  • BSP and SEC allowed granting staggered booking of allowance for credit losses for individuals and business entities.
  • Removal of initial public offering tax.
  • Two-year exemption from compulsory notification for mergers and acquisitions with transaction values below P50-B and one-year exemption from motu proprio investigation.
  • Creation of a national online electronic application system accessible to everyone in each local government unit (LGU) to provide contact tracing capacity.
  • Exemption from import duties for PPE to be determined by the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue provided that local preference is ensured.
  • Unutilized or unreleased balance in special-purpose funds to be used for COVID-19 response.
  • Waived national permits, licenses, certificates for public and private projects that are nationally significant.
  • Waive Phase IV trials of vaccine/cure to expedite procurement subject to World Health Organisation recommendation, Food and Drug Administration to determine minimum standards for distribution.
  • Priority lending for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Cooperatives, Hospitals, Tourism Industry, and OFWs through GFIs.

Appropriations

  • Expanded testing.
  • Human resource for Health (HRH) and additional HRH for hiring, special risk allowance for public and private healthcare workers (HCWs), free life insurance, free accommodation, free transportation and other benefits for private and Public HCWs (Pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement).
  • Procurement of facemasks, PPEs, faceshields (Pursuant to President Duterte’s  pronouncement).
  • Construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities and field hospitals.
  • Subsidies and allowances for elementary, secondary, and tertiary students.
  • Subsidies and allowances for teaching and non-teaching personnel in elementary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions.
  • Training and subsidies for tourist guides.
  • DSWD for Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations which can also be used to procure food packs.
  • Loan for MSMEs.
  • Digital education and infrastructure to support Alternative Learning Modalities of the Department of Education.
  • Assistance to LGUs.
  • Allowances for national athletes and coaches.
  • Repatriation of OFWs.

Once Congress ratifies the reconciled measure, it will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.

JE

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