The Senate on Tuesday approved on itsthird and final reading the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2” which allows the government to continue its COVID-19 response programs to help stimulate various sectors as they recover from the drastic impact of the pandemic.
With 22 affirmative votes and one negative, Senate Bill 1564 will extend the validity of the government’s anti-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) programs and interventions under the Republic Act 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” which lapsed on June 5, 2020.
Only Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan voted against the bill while Sen. Leila de Lima, who is currently detained at the national police headquarters, was unable to vote.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, the bill’s author and sponsor, said the measure will also allow the government to continue providing assistance to Filipino businesses and workers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), impacted by the pandemic
“With Bayanihan 2, the government would be assured of sufficient funding for the ramped up testing for COVID-19 and for contact tracing. It will also ensure that our valiant health workers who contract or succumb to the disease will continuously receive financial support,” Angara said.
“The new law will allow the government to continue providing assistance to Filipino businesses and workers impacted by the pandemic, including OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who were either repatriated or whose deployments were suspended,” he added.
On Monday, during his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to expedite the passage of the Bayanihan 2 bill to “supplement funds for recovery and response” against the impact of the pandemic.
The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2” seeks to provide a PHP 140-billion appropriation to fund the provisions of the proposed law.
The bill specifically seeks to fund the following:
- PHP 10-billion for the procurement of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and extraction kits and corresponding including enhancement of Department of Health’s (DOH) capacities in programs involving elimination and control of other diseases, a total of P10 billion will be appropriated;
- PHP 17-billion for unemployment and involuntary separation assistance program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE);
- PHP 15-billion for the cash-for-work program and DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD;
- PHP 50-billion for government financial institutions, namely Landbank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Philippine Guarantee Corporation as a capital infusion for the grant of low-interest loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- PHP 17-billion for the agriculture sector;
- PHP 17-billion for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to assist the affected members of the transportation sector;
- PHP 10-billion for the Department of Tourism (DOT) to help stimulate the tourism sector;
- PHP 3-billion as assistance for state universities and colleges (SUCs) to help them in shifting to blended learning; and
- PHP 1-billion for the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) as additional scholarship funds for its ‘training-for-work’ scholarship program.
The new act will also provide subsidies for areas placed under enhanced community quarantine, goods, and services for social amelioration measures. It will also fund the construction of temporary medical facilities.