By Vanne Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said he is seeking to be updated on the government’s subsidy program for informal sector families under the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act.
Section 5 of the Republic Act 11469 requires the President to submit every Monday of the week a report to Congress on the implementation of the new law, including the amount of funds used, realigned, and reallocated, to respond to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
President Duterte signed the RA 11469 last March 24. The law should be in “full force” after it was published in the Official Gazette last March 25.
According to Sotto, Malacañang has yet to send word on the submission of its first weekly update to lawmakers.
But asked on his expectations, Sotto, an author to the law, told reporters that he hopes to receive a report on the distribution of the P5,000 to P8,000 financial aid to the 18 million low-income households for two months, as specified under Section 4 of the law.
Sotto said he also wants to be informed of the government’s efforts towards the mass testing of those suspected to be infected by the COVID-19, especially in urban areas of the country.
This was also included in the special powers granted to Duterte to address the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Aside from the improvement of the country’s testing capacity, Sotto added that he also hopes to read about the prioritization of the safety and welfare of the frontline health workers.
Under the law, public health workers shall be given a “COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance” in addition to the hazard pay that they are receiving under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.
All medical expenses of both public and private health workers are also covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
They shall also be given P100,000-compensation if they contact severe COVID-19 infection, while an indemnity of P1 million will be given to their families if they die fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This has a retroactive effect starting February 1.
As for the Senate, Sotto said he assigned Senators Pia Cayetano, Panfilo Lacson, Christopher Go and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to be part of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee to review the implementation of the Bayanihan Act.
Four more members from the House of Representatives also consist the oversight panel.