COVID-19 ‘survival’ kit: What’s inside the ‘Bayanihan 2’ bill?
MANILA, Philippines — After a total of five bicameral panel meetings, 40 hours of deliberations and “hundreds of messages in group chats, dozens of phone calls and Zoom video conference discussions,” Congress finally came out with the final version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
Dubbed as the “Bayanihan 2,” the proposed law lays out the country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan and allocates funds to help struggling sectors cope with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Aside from programs intended to boost the government’s health response to the pandemic, the Bayanihan 2 also seeks to save jobs, according to Senator Sonny Angara.
“It’s job-saving,” Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, told reporters in an online interview on Thursday.
“Living to survive…I think 99 percent of businesses will be down. It’s more of saving jobs. [This is for the] survival and recovery,” he added.
The Bayanihan 2 bill has a total allocation of P165.5 billion but only P140 billion will be ready for use.
The P25.5 billion will serve as a standby funding and will be released once more funds generated from savings and unused appropriations become available.
The Senate already ratified Congress’ reconciled version of the measure. It only needs the ratification of the House of Representatives before it can be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s office for his signature.
And once enacted into law, the Bayanihan 2 will be effective until December 19, 2020.
Below is the breakdown of the P140-billion funding under the Bayanihan 2:
Procurement of face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, shoe covers, and face shields
Construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories, and for the expansion of gov’t hospital capacity
For setting up of isolation facilities and other requirements including billing of hotels, food and transportation used by COVID-19 patients
Hiring of emergency Human Resources for Health (HRH)
Assistance to overseas Filipinos under the Department of Foreign Affairs
For the government’s cash-for-work program and other support programs for impacted sectors
For subsidies and allowances for students severely impacted by the pandemic
As subsidies and allowances to teaching and non-teaching personnel, and part-time faculty in state universities and colleges
Allowance for national athletes and coaches
Capital infusion to government banks
Assistance to the Agricultural Sector and the Plant, Plant, Plant initiative under the Department of Agriculture
Assistance to the transportation sector
Assistance to the tourism industry (P4 billion) and subsidies and training for tourist guides (P100 million)
Development of smart campuses across the country
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority scholarships
Department of Social Welfare and Development assistance to individuals in crisis situations
Department of Education’s implementation of digital education
Assistance to local government units (LGUs)
Subsidy for the payment of interest on loans secured by LGUs from government banks
Hiring of more contact tracers by the Department of Interior and Local Government
For the computer-based licensure of the Philippine Red Cross
Research fund of the Health Technology Assessment Council, which was created under the Universal Health Care law.
For UP Diliman’s computational research laboratory
Under the reconciled version, the President is also authorized to grant P15,000 in cash aid to healthcare workers who contract a mild infection of COVID-19 in the line of duty.
A special risk allowance of P10,000 to public and private health workers catering to COVID-19 patients is also mandated under the bill.
Moreover, the bill provides that healthcare workers who will become severely-ill from COVID-19 in the line of duty are entitled to P100,000 while cash assistance of P1 million should be given to the family of medical workers who died of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the P25.5 billion standby fund under the Bayanihan 2 will be used for COVID-19 testing and the procurement of medication and vaccines (P10 billion) and additional capital infusion to government banks (P15.5 billion).
“As much as we wanted to accommodate all requests and provide support to every distressed Filipino, the economic stimulus in this measure is bounded by our fiscal limitations,” Angara said in his sponsorship speech before the bill was ratified.
“Therefore, we tried our best to cover as much ground as we could, and be as strategic as possible, with the fiscal space that was open to us—with the hope that in the coming months, we may be able to legislate an even greater economic stimulus,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.