House, Senate clash on where P10-billion tourism aid should go

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2020 07:35 AM | Updated as of Aug 20 2020 07:51 AM

This photo taken on June 17, 2020 shows a policeman standing guard along the empty famous white beach of Boracay Island in central Philippines, as community quarantine against COVID-19 still continues throughout the country, with foreign tourists still banned on beaches. Ernesto Cruz, AFP

MANILA — The 2 chambers of Congress are at odds on how to help the tourism sector cope with the coronavirus crisis through a proposed law that will let President Rodrigo Duterte realign funds for the pandemic, a senator said Thursday.

The Senate wants P10 billion of the P140-billion budget under the Bayanihan 2 bill to go to subsidies for the loans of small tourism businesses like hotels and resorts which were left empty of visitors by the pandemic, said Sen. Franklin Drilon.

However, the House of Representatives wants this budget to go to infrastructure, particularly roads that lead to tourist hotspots, said the Senate minority leader.

“Hindi po kami pumayag dahil sa aming basa, hindi naman kailangan ng infrastructure sa panahong ito,” Drilon told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

(We did not agree because we think infrastructure is unnecessary at this time.)

“Wala naman pong turistang pupunta ngayon at lalo na pong mamamatay iyong mga tourism enterprises,” he added.

(No tourist will come anyway and the tourism enterprises will die.)

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Lawmakers have also yet to iron out how to help struggling businesses and the transportation sector with P50 billion from the Bayanihan 2 bill, said Drilon.

The executive branch wants a holding company to be set up, where government-run banks could invest the P50 billion. The holding company, in turn, will help distressed companies, said the senator.

“Ang sinasabi namin, ang ilagay na muna natin, authorization. Kung ano ang structure ay hiwalay na nating pag-usapan,” he said.

(We are saying that we should first the authorization. Let’s talk separately about the structure.) Lawmakers want to complete Bayanihan 2 talks “hopefully by the end of the day,” Drilon said.