Senate ratifies Bayanihan 2 with P140 B to fight COVID-19 and pump prime the economy

The Senate on Thursday ratified the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2, which seeks to boost the country’s response and recovery interventions against COVID-19, and accelerate the recovery of the national economy.

A follow-up to the first Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the measure will grant President Duterte the authority to exercise powers necessary to implement a host of COVID-19 programs, which include, but are not limited to the expediting of the accreditation of viral testing kits, hiring of skilled medical workers, provision of emergency of cash subsidies to affected households and displaced workers, among others.

Senate finance committee chairman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who sponsored the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report, said lawmakers worked hard to accommodate all requests to provide support to every distressed Filipinos.

Thus, the bicameral conference committee approved a measure that “contemplates up to P140-billion of regular appropriations, while parking up to P25.5-billion as a standby fund”  should the government is able to generate savings and unused appropriations.

“In total, the stimulus under Bayanihan 2 could amount to a maximum of P165.5-billion,” Angara stressed.

Under the Bayanihan 2, the P140-billion’s worth of regular appropriations are broken down as follows: 

•       P3-billion for the procurement of facemasks, personal protective equipment (PPEs), shoe covers, and face shields; 
•       P4.5-billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories, and for the expansion of government hospital capacity; 
•       Another P4.5-billion for Office of Civil Defense (OCD) or NDRRMC isolation facilities and other requirements including billing of hotels, food and transportation used by COVID-19 patients;
•       P13.5-billion for the DOH to employ emergency Human Resources for Health;
•       P820-million as a fund for Overseas Filipinos under the Department of Foreign Affairs; 
•       P13-billion for the government’s cash-for-work program and other support programs for impacted sectors; 
•       P600-milion as subsidies and allowances for students severely impacted by the pandemic; 
•       P300-million as subsidies and allowances to teaching and non-teaching personnel, and party-time faculty in SUCs;  and
•       P180-million as allowance for national athletes and coaches.

The measure also seeks a P39.472-billion as capital infusion to government banks, broken down as follows:

•       P10-billion for the DTI Small Business Corporation (SBCorp)—of which P4-billion will be devoted for low-interest loans to MSMEs, cooperatives, hospitals, and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and P6-billion for tourism; 
•       P18.4725-billion for the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP); 
•       P6-billion for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP);  and
•       P5-billion for the Philippine Guarantee Corporation. 

The measure also assures:
•       P24-billion as assistance to the Agricultural Sector and the Plant, Plant, Plant initiative under the Department of Agriculture (DA); 
•       P9.5-billion in assistance to the transportation industry; 
•       P4-billion for the tourism industry, and another P100-million for tourist guides training and subsidies; 
•       P3-billion for the development of smart campuses across the country; 
•       P1-billion for scholarships under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA);
•       P6-billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) assistance to individuals  in crisis situations; 
•       P4-billion for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) implementation of digital education; 
•       P1.5-billion as assistance to local government units (LGUs), with another P2-billion as subsidy for the payment of interest on loans secured by LGUs from government banks; 
•       P5-billion for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the hiring of more contact tracers;
•       P2.5-million for the computer-based licensure of the Philippine Red Cross; 
•       P10-million for the research fund of the Health Technology Assessment Council, which was created under the Universal Health Care (UHC) law;  and
•       P15-million for UP Diliman’s Computational Research Lab; 

Meanwhile, P10-billion of the P25.5-billion parked funds under this measure would be used to boost the government’s COVID-19 testing, and procurement of medication and vaccines.

The P15.5275-billion of the amount would be for additional capital infusion to government banks with roughly P9-billion to be given to the LandBank of the Philippines  (LBP) and P6.5-billion for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).