Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speakers LRay Villafuerte and Mikee Romero and ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda all welcomed the call of President Duterte for a special session of Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2.
House ready for special session, vows passage of Bayanihan 2
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - July 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — The House of Representatives is ready to hold a special session to pass the proposed second Bayanihan law, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) contagion continues to wreak havoc on lives and the economy.

Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speakers LRay Villafuerte and Mikee Romero and ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda all welcomed the call of President Duterte for a special session of Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2.

“The House leadership under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is committed to approve the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill or the Bayanihan 2 to help President Duterte kick-start our economy and strengthen government’s fight against the spread of COVID-19. We will get the job done,” Romualdez said in a statement.

The Leyte representative said they would await official communication from the Palace regarding the schedule of the special session.

Villafuerte gave the same assurance and revealed that House leaders have actually started discussing the matter with the Senate leadership even ahead of the formal call by the Chief Executive.

“House leaders have engaged senators and executive department officials in continuous discussions on the proposed provisions of Bayanihan 2 that would let the President best deal with the deepening global health and economic crisis spawned by the coronavirus pandemic,” the Camarines Sur lawmaker said.

“We need to give continued special powers to the President to beat the pandemic which, according to the WHO (World Health Organization), has reached a ‘dangerous’ stage of accelerated spread as governments across the world start relaxing mobility restrictions and reopening their economies,” he stressed.

Romero, representative of 1-Pacman party-list, also voiced support for the President’s call.

“It is crucial for us in Congress to support the President to ensure the country and Filipinos’ survival from this coronavirus pandemic,” he stressed.

The head of the 54-member party-list bloc in the chamber has vowed to support the House leadership in ensuring the timely passage of the measure.

Salceda also cited the importance of passing equally important measures during the special session, particularly the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and the P1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) Act.

“I support President Duterte’s decision to call for a special session of Congress to pass a stimulus package that responds to the most pressing needs of the country. This is a request we have made strongly to the President over the past weeks, and we are prepared to work during the special session to get a viable compromise passed,” he said.

The Albay representative revealed House members have been preparing for the special session and negotiating with economic managers on the stimulus package.

“Time is of the essence in this matter, and we can confidently assure the people that the House is ready to get this done quickly,” he added.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the economic managers of the Duterte administration have approved only P130 billion for the stimulus package.

The proposed Bayanihan 2 under House Bill 6953 seeks to allocate P162 billion in funds to support operations and response measures to address the COVID-19 crisis – in addition to the P275-billion funding used under Republic Act 11469, Bayanihan to Heal as One law enacted last March and which expired last month.

The proposed measure seeks to provide for the grant of P5,000 to P8,000 subsidy to low income families, households with recently returned OFWs and no-work-no-pay individuals such as freelancers and self-employed individuals.

It also grants a one-month emergency subsidy to low-income households that were left out in implementation of the social amelioration program (SAP) under the first Bayanihan law.

Specifically, P18 billion will be allotted for the implementation of cash-for-work program and the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), P5 billion for the implementation of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and P21 billion for unemployment or involuntary separation assistance to the displaced workers in health, education, tourism, culture and arts, creative industry, transportation and other sectors affected by the pandemic.

There will also be P50 billion for infusion of capital to government financial institutions, P21-billion support for the agriculture sector, P21-billion assistance to the critically impacted businesses in the transportation industry and for the development of accessible sidewalks and protected bicycle lanes, P10 billion to finance Department of Tourism programs to assist affected businesses in the tourism industry, P3-billion assistance to state universities and colleges for their transition to flexible learning modality and P1-billion assistance to Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for the development of smart campuses.

Lastly, the bill seeks to provide P12 billion for the procurement of polymerase chain reaction testing and extraction kits, supplies and materials for COVID-19 testing, and for the enhancement of the Department of Health’s capacity to provide healthcare services.

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