The House of Representatives (HOR) has approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 6953, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, which aims to fast-track the Philippines’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic fallout.
HB 6953 proposes to hasten the country’s COVID-19 recovery and response by providing the necessary stimulus and recovery measures such as low-interest loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); additional resources for health care; sustained efforts for COVID-19 testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment; and support programs for health workers, among others.
The bill provides P162 billion in standby funds for “support operations and response measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic.” The funding will be used to finance emergency subsidy to workers, cash-for-work programs, prevention and control of other diseases, support programs for impacted sectors, and support for the agricultural sector.
Of the 162 billion, P10 billion is allocated to finance programs of the Department of Transportation to assist critically affected businesses in the transportation industry, including the provision of temporary livelihood for displaced workers.
Once enacted into law, the measure will be in effect until December 31, 2020.
The Senate has also recently approved on final reading its version of Bayanihan 2—Senate Bill (SB) 1564—which will effectively extend the validity of the government’s COVID-19 programs and interventions under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which lapsed last June 5.
Under SB 1564, a total of P140 billion will be appropriated to fund provisions of the law, while a P236-billion standby fund will be appropriated to support operation and response measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Under SB 1564, Bayanihan 2 is only effective until September 30.
The two approved bills will undergo a bicameral conference committee hearing for consolidation and fine-tuning, and if ratified, will be sent to the Office of the President for signing into law.