House approves P162-B Bayanihan 2 bill on second reading

The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved anew on second reading the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act  or the Bayanihan 2 but substituted the entire bill it passed before the sine die adjournment last June 4.

Congressmen were expected to approve  House Bill 6953 bill on third and final reading next week, following a bicameral conference committee meeting with the Senate which already disposed of its version of the bill last week.

The House version provides for a P162 billion standby fund to support response measures  to cushion the economic and public health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate’s version is P22 billion less than what the congressmen are proposing.

Substitution of the original version of HB 6953 is allowed under Section 107 of the rules of the Lower House.

“This is one of the many necessary steps in our long road to recovery, so we expect to deliberate on other economic measures in the coming weeks,”  commented Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means and co-chairman of the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Cluster of the Defeat COVID-19 Committee.

The funding allocations provided under the bill are as follows:

- P10 billion as subsidy to the National Health Insurance Program of PhilHealth to be used solely to cover COVID-19 expanded testing based on DOH Protocol and for allocation of COVID-19 confinements (in patients)

- P10.5 billion – Hiring of additional Health Care Workers and arrangements for risk allowance, life insurance, compensation, and compensation for death and critical illness

- P 3 billion for procurement of face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for frontliners and indigents

-P4 billion to finance the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories for frontliners, and for the expansion of government hospital capacity all over the country

- P20 billion for the implementation of appropriate cash-for-work programs for displaced workers;

- P51 billion for the infusion of capital to government financial institutions;

-P20 billion to provide direct cash or loan subsidies, under the programs of the Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC);

- P10 billion to finance the programs of the DOTr to assist the critically impacted businesses in the transportation industry;

- P10 billion to finance the programs of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) assisting the recovery of the tourism industry that shall include the provision of tourism infrastructures;

- P100 million to finance the training and subsidies for tourist guides;

- P3 billion to assist state universities and colleges in the development of smart campuses through investments in ICT infrastructure;

- P600 million for subsidies and allowances to qualified students of public and private Tertiary Education Institutions;

- P300 million for subsidies and allowances of affected teaching and non-teaching personnel, including part time faculty, in private and public Tertiary Education Institutions;

- P1 billion as additional scholarship funds of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority

- P12 billion to finance programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development

- P4 billion to assist the Department of Education in the implementation of Digital Education, Information Technology (IT) and Digital Infrastructures and Alternative Learning Modalities

- P1.5 billion as assistance to local government units (LGUs)

-P180 million to finance allowances for national athletes and coaches whose allowances were reduced to 50 percent due to the pandemic

-P820 million as assistance for Department of Foreign Affairs  programs for displaced migrant workers.

The bill said these subsidy and stimulus measures, as well as all other measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic shall be funded from the 2020 national budget, savings, revenue collections, proceeds from loans and other foreign borrowings and funds from GOCCs.