THE expected lengthy coronavirus pandemic has thrust one front the need for Congress to come up with various measures aimed at pump-priming the now struggling economy and creating enough jobs for the growing army of displaced Filipino workers.
Last Saturday, the World Health Organization warned the pandemic, which has killed at least 680,000 people across the globe, was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.
One of the measures is the proposed “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act 2,” which is seen to pump prime the now struggling Philippine economy and generate jobs for the growing army of jobless local and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the pandemic.
Fortunately, the House of Representatives is putting the finishing touches to the final version of “Bayanihan 2,” according to Majority Leader Martin G. Romualdez, co-chairman of the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC) with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Next week, the Lower House of Congress, which is dominated by pro-administration lawmakers, is expected to pass on third and final reading the proposed piece of legislation.
The United States-educated Romualdez, a lawyer and banker by profession, said President Duterte has a three-fold mission to protect the nation from hunger and poverty caused by the crippling COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to terrorize people across the globe.
ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, chair of the House appropriations committee, shared the view of Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA), that “Bayanihan 2” is aimed at providing aid and relief for the Filipino people.
Yap said the proposed law will help the Filipino people “para maka-recover sa epekto ng pandemic at ituloy ang mga programa sa naunang Bayanihan Law,” which expired last June 24.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, on the other hand, called on the economic managers to “give the green light” on a third tranche of the highly-successful Social Amelioration Program (SAP), claiming that communities are on the brink of being completely “pauperized.”
“Even people whom I know to have been gainly employed before the (COVID-19) pandemic are now in very dire need,” Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, lamented.
Members of the two-chamber Congress – the Senate and the House of Representatives – have no choice but to speed up the passage of “Bayanihan 2” if we are to win the war against COVID-19.