Senate approves Bayanihan 2 bill on second reading

Published June 3, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate has approved on second reading the proposed “Bayanihan to Recover as One” bill.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 1564 is now awaiting third reading approval after senators wrapped up their debates on the measure Wednesday, June 3.

The bill seeks to sustain the government’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts, taking off from Republic Act (RA) No. 11469, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which will lapse when Congress adjourns on June 5.

Finance committee chairman Sen. Sonny Angara, sponsor of the measure, said this also provides funds for interventions and mechanisms aimed at speeding up the recovery and improving the resiliency of the country’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among others, the ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 emergency subsidy will still be granted to low-income households in areas under enhanced community quarantine and to households with recentlyreturned overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

A one-month emergency subsidy shall also be given to qualified low-income households that have not received it in the past three months as mandated by the Bayanihan Act.

Involuntary separation assistance

The bill also proposes a ₱10,000 unemployment or involuntary separation assistance for displaced workers from private health institutions, the creative industry, freelancers, the self-employed, and repatriated and stranded OFWs, workers from the tourism, culture and arts, construction, public transportation, trade industries, and other sectors of the economy as identified by the Department of Labor and Employment, in coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Social Security System (SSS).

Tuition subsidies

Students who are not currently receiving any assistance from the government but are now facing financial difficulties due to the lockdowns shall also get tuition subsidies: ₱8,000 for qualified students in private tertiary education, and ₱3,000 for students in private elementary and junior high school and senior high school.

A one-time cash assistance of ₱10,000 shall be granted to teaching and non-teaching personnel affected by the deferred opening or reduced offering of classes during the quarantine. These include part-time faculty in private basic education schools, tertiary education institutions, and state universities and colleges.

Loans for purchase of gadgets

The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), SSS, and the Government Service Insurance System, meanwhile, will provide loans, subsidies, discounts, and grants for the purchase by parents of electronic equipment such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones for the use of their children during the planned shift to blended learning.

Health workers’ benefits

The benefits for health workers under the Bayanihan Act shall also continue under SB 1564, including the “COVID-19 special risk allowance” on top of their hazard pay, as well as the shouldering of their medical expenses in case of infection and related injuries and diseases.

The bill also expands the compensation packages for those who died or contracted COVID-19 in the performance of their duty to have a retroactive application from January 1, 2020.

It also adds the mandatory testing of public and private health workers every 15 days “to ensure their protection.”

₱140-B standby fund

The Bayanihan to Recover as One bill sets aside a P140-billion standby fund to support the operations and programs for COVID-19 response:

COVID-19 testing, healthcare

  • ₱10 billion for the procurement of materials and supplies for COVID19 testing and for enhancing the capacities of the DOH to provide healthcare services and control diseases other than COVID-19, as well as PCR testing and extraction kits, supplies, materials, and reagents to be used for the conduct of COVID-19 testing and for the enhancement of capacities of the DOH in the provision of healthcare services and the implementation of programs and projects to eliminate, prevent, and control diseases other than COVID-19;

Cash-for-work programs

  •  ₱15 billion for the implementation of cash-for-work programs such as the temporary hiring of data encoders and other personnel as may be necessary for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for emergency subsidies to workers in critically impacted sectors and industries;
  • ₱17 billion for unemployment or involuntary separation assistance for displaced workers or employees;

Infusion of capital

  • ₱50 billion for the infusion of capital to government financial institutions to be allocated as follows:

-₱5 billion for the credit guarantee program of the Philippine Guarantee Corporation;

-₱30 billion for the LBP for low-interest loans to persons and entities engaged in industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as transportation, retail, accommodation and tourism services, and micro, small, and medium enterprises;

-₱15 billion for the DBP for low-interest loans to be extended to the mentioned persons and entities in affected industries;

Interest-free loans

  • ₱17 billion to provide direct cash subsidies, interest-free loans, and other forms of assistance to qualified agri-fishery enterprises, farmers, and fisherfolk; and to finance the Plant, Plant, Plant program to ensure food security and productivity in the agricultural sector;

DOTr programs

  • ₱17 billion to finance the Department of Transportation’s programs to assist critically impacted workers and businesses in the transportation industry, and for the development of accessible sidewalks and protected bicycle lanes;

DOT programs

  • ₱10 billion to finance programs of the Department of Tourism to assist critically impacted businesses in the industry;

Education

  • ₱3 billion to assist SUCs in the development of smart campuses; and
  • ₱1 billion as additional scholarship funds of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, under its training for work scholarship program and Special Training for Employment Program (STEP), for the retooling, retraining, and upskilling of displaced workers, including returning OFWs, as well as the provision of tool kits under STEP.

RA 11469 is deemed repealed upon the adjournment of the first regular session of the 18th Congress.

The proposed law will remain in effect until September 30, 2020, unless extended by Congress.

Angara described the bill as “a basket of targeted aid to sectors severely impacted by the double whammy of a public health and economic crisis.”

“Only through concerted action will we be able to overcome this pandemic. This measure is an attempt to rally, not just the government, but also the rest of our country during these difficult times,” he added.

 
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