THE House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act which sets aside an additional P162 billion for the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response this year.
With a vote of 242-6 with no abstention, congressmen approved House Bill No. 6953 in response to President Duterte’s call in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) for Congress to help prevent the spread of the virus and speed up the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, a principal author of the measure, said the measure is a “huge first step” towards economic recovery.
“But many, many more steps are needed in this journey. And many, many more to bring our people to the welcome shores of safety and security. These are steps that we need to take together – as partners in change, sharing the same vision of peace, progress, and prosperity,” said Cayetano in his speech before approving the Bayanihan 2.
The Speaker said Congress envisions Bayanihan 2 “to be a living piece of legislation that will power our industries and revitalize sectors of society that have been decimated by this virus, or were otherwise forgotten and neglected in the past.”
Majority leader Martin Romualdez said the measure aims to “reduce the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the socioeconomic well-being of all Filipinos through the provisions of assistance, subsidies and other forms of socioeconomic relief.”
Members of the Makabayan bloc like ACT party-list Rep. France Castro voted against the measure, saying the Duterte administration “has failed to show that he had indeed used these (additional) powers to address COVID and alleviate the suffering of the people.”
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.