MANILA (2nd UPDATE)-- A bill that seeks to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to realign funds for the coronavirus crisis moved closer to becoming a law after a bicameral conference of senators and House of Representatives members approved it on Thursday, lawmakers said.
The bicameral conference committee approved the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill, said House Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
The bill sets aside P140 billion for the pandemic response and includes "allotments for various government programs to help our affected countrymen and sectors and an additional P25-billion standby appropriations," said Senate finance committee chair Sen. Sonny Angara.
It is the second law for COVID-19 crisis response, following the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which lapsed in June.
"We just adjourned and we hope to ratify later," he told reporters.
Malacañang welcomed the development on Thursday, saying it shows that Congress was faithful to the request of the Palace for the speedy passage of the measure.
"Nagagalak kami na napakabilis ng pagpasa ng Bayanihan 2," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
(We are glad that Bayanihan 2 was quickly passed.)
"I think they (Congress) were faithful naman sa request ng Palasyo...We are thankful for the cooperation extended by both Houses of Congress," he added.
Of the total funds, P10 billion will go to the tourism sector and will be divided into the following, said Drilon:
- P6 billion for soft loans under for tourism micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under the trade department's Small Business Corp;
- P3 billion for displaced tourism workers; and
- P1 billion for tourism infrastructure under the public works department.
Bayanihan 2 also provides for a 60-day loan moratorium covering credit cards, salary, and housing loans, Drilon earlier told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
Earlier versions of the measure included P50 billion in aid for struggling businesses that would be coursed through government financial institutions, as well as funds for coronavirus tests, a cash-for-work program, and aid for students and the tourism and transport sectors.
- With reports from RG Cruz, Robert Mano and Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News