Lower House OKs own version of Bayanihan 2 on second reading

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2020 09:44 PM

MANILA - The House of Representatives has approved its version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) on second reading.

The approval came through an ayes and nayes vote wherein those in the affirmative outyelled the dissenters. 

The House will vote on the bill for 3rd and final reading after at least 3 calendar days as the bill has not been certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

House Bill 6953 was amended through the adoption of an unnumbered substitute bill after the period of sponsorship and debate was reopened to allow the interpellation of sponsor, Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte by Representatives Arlene Brosas, Carlos Zarate, and House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante.

Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu of the Nacionalista Party, Aurelio Dong Gonzales of the PDP and Michael Romero of the Party List Coalition, Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian of the Nationalist Peoples’ Coalition, Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy ALvarado of the National Unity Party, and Deputy Majority Leader Sharky Palma of Lakas CMD manifested spoke in behalf of their parties to express support for the measure.

The House version would have the proposed law be in effect until December 31, 2020.

Among its salient provisions:

  • P10 billion – Philhealth COVID-19 Coverage
  • P10.5 billion – Hiring of additional Health Care Workers and arrangements for risk allowance, life insurance, compensation, and compensation for death and critical illness
  • P3 billion – purchase of PPEs for frontliners and indigents
  • P4 billion – construction of quarantine and isolation facilities
  • P20 billion – implementation of cash-for-work programs
  • 51 billion – infusion of new capital for government financial institutions, to expand credit
  • P20 billion – low-interest credit for the agriculture sector
  • P10 billion – for programs for the transport sector
  • P10 billion – for tourism development programs
  • P100 million – for training tourist guides
  • P3 billion – for smart, ICT-ready education facilities in state universities and colleges
  • P600 million – subsidies for qualitied students in private tertiary education institutions
  • P300 million – subsidies for personnel of private tertiary education institutions and part-time personnel of state universities and colleges
  • P1 billion – additional scholarship funds for TESDA
  • P12 billion – for DSWD programs such as AICS, emergency subsidies for areas on hard lockdown, sustainable livelihood programs, and supplemental feeding
  • P4 billion – to assist DepEd prepare classrooms for digital education
  • P1.5 billion – assistance for local government units
  • P180 million – to finance athletes whose allowances were reduced due to COVID-19
  • P820 million – assistance for DFA programs for displaced migrant workers

It also mandates the following interventions, among others: 

  • Cash subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000, in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), to affected families in the informal sector.
  • Appropriate cash-for-work for displaced workers due to COVID-19.

Cayetano said their version will cost around P140 to P170 billion.

It waived the requirement of Phase 4 trials for COVID-19 medication and vaccines stipulated in the Universal Health Care law to expedite the procurement and distribution.

It also authorizes the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to realign and reprogram funds from programs, projects or activities which cannot be utilized effectively as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It, likewise, authorizes the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to invest in, or enter into a joint venture agreement to incorporate a special holding company, to be known as Accelerating Recovery to Intensify Solidarity and Equity, Inc. or ARISE, Inc. to assist strategically important companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also reenacts the Special Purpose Asset Vehicle Act of 2002 as amended to enable financial institutions (FIs) to free up much-needed liquidity for lending to the productive sectors of the economy crucial to economic recovery.

The second package of the Bayanihan measures is expected to extend some procurement and budgeting powers reflected in the first Bayanihan package, which expired last June 25. 

“This is one of the many necessary steps in our long road to recovery, so we expect to deliberate on other economic measures in the coming weeks,” Salceda said.

Salceda added that “the GDP figures to be released tomorrow will probably emphasize the need for other measures in the coming weeks and months.”

Salceda said that he expects second quarter GDP contraction to be “steep, likely in the double-digits, as similar countries have suffered contractions of this scale. But our finances are fine. Our track record and credit ratings were part of the work of the economic team and my committee [Ways and Means], and we believe that our record will survive this pandemic.”

Salceda also said that there is a possibility that other stimulus measures, such as the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act, and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act might also be introduced as amendments to the package today.

Last week, the Senate passed the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill on final reading as the Philippines continues to battle health and economic crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.