'Bayanihan 2' now only needs Duterte's signature | Inquirer News
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‘Bayanihan 2’ now only needs Duterte’s signature

/ 05:15 PM August 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or the “Bayanihan 2,” which seeks to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, now only needs President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature to become a law.

This came after the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of the measure. The Senate already ratified the bill on August 20.

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Since both chambers have already ratified the bill, it will now be transmitted to the Office of the President for Duterte’s signature.

Bayanihan 2 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.

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Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, who authored the House version of the bill and is one of the heads of the bicameral conference committee, earlier said that Bayanihan 2 provides for a stimulus package worth P165 billion, higher than the funding initially proposed by both the Senate and House.

The P165 billion stimulus package consists of P140 billion in regular appropriation and P25 billion as standby funding.

“The final Bayanihan 2 bill has set aside the biggest share of the proposed P165-billion budget for soft loans to badly-hit groups such as micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs), transport, tourism and agriculture sectors to help them get back on their feet at the soonest,” VIllafuerte said.

Further, Villafuerte added that Bayanihan 2 allocates subsidies and allowances to qualified students in both private and public elementary schools, high schools, and colleges whose families were affected by work stoppage amid the lockdowns imposed; and one-time cash aid to displaced teaching and non-teaching personnel who have lost their jobs or who have not received their wages because of the coronavirus crisis.

The bill, Villafuerte said, likewise allots P13.5 billion for health-related responses, including the retroactive payment of the P100,000 hazard duty pay for healthworkers effective February 2020; continuous employment of existing emergency healthworkers; augmentation  of operations of Department of Health (DOH) hospitals; and risk allowance of public and private healthworkers attending to COVID-19 patients.

A total of P3 billion is also allotted for the procurement of face masks, face shields and personal protective equipment (PPEs); and P4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, said Villafuerte.

Funding is also allocated for digital education and infrastructure, assistance to LGUs, allowances for national athletes and coaches, and repatriation of OFWs.

Villafuerte said other salient provisions of the bill are as follows:

  • Authority to reprogram and realign funds to fund purchase of PPEs, 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 a 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 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to relax regulatory and statutory restrictions and requirements for one year
  • BSP and SEC allowed to grant 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 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
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