House approves Bayanihan 2, 242-6-0

Alan Peter Cayetano & Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez introduces Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano at the Plenary of the House of Representatives, shortly before the Speaker delivered a speech regarding House Bill 6953 or the the Bayanihan To Recover as One Act . Photo by VER NOVENO

VOTING 242 against six and zero abstention, the House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the proposed P162 billion coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) roadmap for economic recovery, improve the country’s health care system and create jobs for displaced Filipinos.

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez lauded his colleagues for approving the measure upon the request of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to address the country’s dire situation” as an offshoot of the pandemic.

“The House leadership is extending its gratitude to our colleagues for responding to the call of President Duterte to pass the COVID roadmap for economic recovery,” said Romualdez, referring to the passage of House Bill (HB) 6953 or the Bayanihan: We Recover as One Act or the Bayanihan 2.

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, said the measure will help restore the public trust and confidence on social and economic institutions.

“This will help accelerate the recovery and bolster the resilience of the Philippine economy through measures grounded on economic inclusivity and collective growth,” said Romualdez, adding the country needs to fully implement a responsive and sustainable economic recovery plan.

“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,” Romualdez added.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the “Bayanihan to Recover as One is a huge first step” to 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.

“We have put the people - their lives and livelihood - first in this law. And at its center we have placed public health, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), our athletes, the creative industry, social amelioration, and jobs, jobs, jobs. We want 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,” Cayetano stressed.

“At the end of the day, Bayanihan 2 is more than just an enumeration of benefits, or an aggregation of budgets to help those of our kababayans who need it most. It is a reaffirmation of that spirit of cooperation and community that our race is most famous for. Bayanihan is about Filipinos helping Filipinos. It is about reaching out across geographic and political divides. It is about hope in the darkest times, and most desperate places,” Cayetano added.

Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero credited the leadership of Cayetano and Romualdez for the passage of the Bayanihan 2.

“The Bayanihan 2 will promote and protect the collective interests of all Filipinos in these challenging times,” said Romero, president of the 54-strong Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI).

Romero said public and private school teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will receive financial aid under the proposed Bayanihan 2.

He 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.

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. 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 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; 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), PhP4 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).