Bayanihan 2 set for House okay

Martin Romualdez

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Sunday said the House of Representatives will pass this week on third and final reading the proposed P162 billion Bayanihan: We Recover as One Act or the Bayanihan 2.

“We are committed to pass on third and final reading this week the proposed roadmap for COVID-19 recovery or the Bayanihan 2,” said Romualdez after the clean third reading copy of House Bill (HB) No. 6953 or the Bayanihan 2 was distributed to the 301-strong House of Representatives last Friday.

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, said the measure will help restore the public trust and confidence in social and economic  institutions, adding the President made the appeal to approve the bill because of the “dire situation” the country faces.

“We are hoping that this will 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,” said Romualdez.

Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero said public and private school teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will receive financial aid under the proposed Bayanihan 2.

Romero, president of the 54-strong Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI), said the bill 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.”

Romero is among House members who called and pushed for the inclusion of financial aid for teachers and non-teaching personnel in Bayanihan 2.

He made the call as early as July 13, when the House was still putting together the proposed second version of the social amelioration program.

In particular, he 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.”

Romero said private school teachers would continue to be without income until classes open in August, unless postponed due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

The House leader noted that in the case of the more than 700,000 personnel of public schools, they 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 P300 million for teachers and non-teaching staff, the proposed Bayanihan 2 law appropriates P600 million for “subsidies and allowances to qualified students of public and private elementary, secondary and tertiary education institutions.”

It allocates a total of P162 billion for COVID-19-pandemic-affected sectors.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Romualdez and Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte are the bill’s principal authors.

Among the components of the P162-billion Bayanihan 2 are P10 billion for COVID-19 expanded testing and treatment of patients; P10.5 billing for the  Department Health (DOH) 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; and P20 billion for cash-for-work for displaced workers; P51 billion to help micro, small and medium businesses.

The bill 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; P600 million for subsidies and allowances to qualified students of public and private tertiary schools; P300 million as subsidies to affected teaching and non-teaching personnel of public and private schools; P12 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P4 billion for the Department of Education (DepEd); P1.5 billion for local government units; and P820 million for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).