Gov't optimistic Bayanihan 2 law passed by House

The government is optimistic that the House of Representatives can pass the proposed Bayanihan 2 law next week to boost the government's pandemic response and economic recovery efforts.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the Senate has passed the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act on third reading while the House has approved it on second reading.

"Ang alam po namin base sa schedule ay ia-approve na po ng House of Representatives sa Lunes at magkakaroon po ng bicameral (We know that based on schedule, the House of Representatives will approve the bill on Monday, followed by a bicameral (conference committee meeting)," Chua said during a televised press briefing Friday.

The Senate has proposed a P140-billion fund to boost the government's coronavirus response and mitigation efforts while the House outlined a higher P160 billion allocation in the Bayanihan 2 proposal.

The lawmakers are expected to iron out the conflicting provisions of their versions before being submitted to President Duterte for action.

According to Chua, the House version provides fiscal resources to support the healthcare system, testing, public transport, workers, and other sectors affected by the coronavirus lockdown.

He said the House proposal included programs to enhance testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment, which are crucial to boost confidence, get people back to work, and restore consumer demand. 

"Malaking tulong din po ang ibibigay po natin sa public transport, kasi kailangan din namang magtrabaho. Kung bukas iyong ekonomiya, pero iyong public transport ay hindi fully open, hindi po rin effective iyon. Pero kailangan po nating gawin ito in the safest possible manner (We will give huge assistance to the public transport because they to work. if the economy is open but the public transport is not fully open, it is still not effective. But it must be done in the safest possible manner)," he said.

He said the Bayanihan measure also aims to provide capital infusion to government financial institutions (GFIs) to allow them to lend to more to small businesses and help smaller banks.

The House bill likewise included provisions on equity support to distressed companies as well as allow banks to dispose of bad loans and assets.

Apart from pursuing the passage of Bayanihan 2  measure, the government will also pursue its "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program to stimulate economic activity in the country. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the implementation of the infrastructure program will be subject to health and safety protocols. 

Roque said the government has also recalibrated the proposed national budget for 2021 to implement priority programs aimed to facilitate recovery.

The proposed P4.506 trillion spending, approved by the President, includes allocations for improving health care systems, enduring food security, public and digital infrastructure, and assistance for communities to cope with the pandemic.