PUBLIC and private school teachers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will receive financial aid under the proposed Bayanihan 2 law, or the “We Recover as One Act,” which the House of Representatives intends to approve today, Monday.
The proposed law allocates P300 million for “subsidies and allowances of affected teaching and non-teaching personnel, including part-time faculty, in private and public elementary, secondary and tertiary education institutions, including part-time faculty in SUCs.”
Deputy speaker Michael Romero of 1-PACMAN party-list pushed for the inclusion of financial aid for teachers and non-teaching personnel in the Bayanihan 2, noting that private school teachers would continue to be without income until classes open in August, which could again be postponed if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
The lawmaker made the call last July 13, when the House was still putting together the proposed second version of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) law under House Bill No. 6953.
Romero had in mind tens of thousands of teaching and non-teaching personnel of private schools, who, he said, “have been affected by the pandemic like most of our workers and have been without jobs and income as well.”
He noted that the more than 700,000 teaching personnel of public schools will continue to receive salaries during the pandemic.
The P300 million financial aid is seen to benefit more than a million teaching and non-teaching personnel in both the public and private education sectors.
Aside from the appropriation for teachers and non-teaching staff, the proposed Bayanihan 2 law also allocates P600 million for “subsidies and allowances to qualified students of public and private elementary, secondary and tertiary education institutions.”
Deputy speaker Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said the House plans to provide President Duterte with special powers anew by September “to best deal with the apparently protracted global health and economic crisis spawned by the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Senate has already approved its version of the Bayanihan 2 with a smaller budget of P140 billion.
Villafuerte said the bicam panel on the bill will be scheduled immediately to reconcile the different versions of the House and Senate.
“In reality, P162 billion is not enough. In fact, the Senate passed P140 billion … This body feels the national government can afford P162 billion — that’s why we’re passing it,” said Villafuerte, a principal author of HBN 6953.
Villafuerte said the next step after the enactment of Bayanihan 2 is to “work closely with the government to raise revenues” so it could sufficiently bankroll Covid-19 response.
He said Bayanihan 2 is just a “stop-gap measure” as he considers it inadequate to prepare the economy for recovery.
Among the components of the P162-billion Bayanihan 2 are P10 billion for expanded testing and treatment of patients, P10.5 billing for the Department Health for additional personnel and benefits, and fund augmentation to hospitals; P3 billion for face masks and other personal protective equipment items, P4 billion for temporary isolation and quarantine facilities, P20 billion for cash-for-work for displaced workers, and P51 billion to help micro, small and medium businesses.
The bill also includes P20 billion for cash or interest subsidies for farmers, P10 billion for the transportation industry, P10 billion for the tourism sector, P3 billion for state universities and colleges, P12 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development, P4 billion for the Department of Education, P1.5 billion for local government units, and P820 million for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers.