House sends manifesto of support to Duterte 

LEADERS and members of different political parties as well as party-list groups in the House of Representatives have submitted a manifesto of support for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in its continued response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Primarily, the lawmakers vowed to approve at the soonest possible time the proposed Bayanihan 2 or the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act. During Wednesday’s session, the measure was approved on second reading.

“Heeding the President's call, we now declare our commitment to unify our respective political parties and party-list organizations in order for the House of Representatives to pass the Bayanihan 2 bill at the soonest time possible,” the manifesto read.

The House version of Bayanihan 2 bill will provide a total of P162 billion to act as an economic stimulus and help Filipinos to recover from the wrath of the virus.

Four months ago, on March 23, the House of Representatives acted with a sense of urgency and approved during a Special Session, the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Bill”. A bill that granted President Duterte additional authority to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. The measure was eventually signed by the President and enacted into law as Republic Act No. 11469.

"Despite our gallant stand against COVID-19, the global health crisis continues to wreak havoc on our people's health and has brought our country's economic progress to a screeching halt. As the number of COVID cases continues to rise, some business establishments have resorted to closure and millions of Filipinos face the threat of unemployment," the lawmakers said.

In his 5th State of the Nation Address, the President appealed for the passage of a second version of the Bayanihan Law to stem the spread of the COVID virus and speed up our country's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Included in the Bayanihan 2 are the P10 billion subsidy to the National Health Insurance Program to be used exclusively to cover COVID 19 expanded testing and for allocation of COVID 19 confinements (inpatients);  P10.5 billion allocated to Department of Health for continuous employment of existing emergency Human Resource for Health (HRH) and additional emergency HRH for hiring, P10,000 Risk Allowance for Private Sector HCWs treating COVID-19 Patients, free life insurance for all Healthcare Workers (HCWs) (Public and Private), free accommodation, transportation, and meals for all HCWs (Public and Private), Special Risk allowance for Public HCWs directly managing COVID-19 patients, HCW compensation for mild, severe/critical, deaths from COVID-19, augmentation for operations of DOH Hospitals; P3 billion for the procurement of face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, shoe covers and face shields to be provided to all Barangay Health Workers, Barangay Officials, and other indigent persons that need protection;  P4 billion to finance the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories for frontliners and for the expansion of government hospital capacity all over the country; and P20 billion for the implementation of appropriate cash-for-work programs for displaced workers.

Also included is  P51 billion for the infusion of capital to GFIs to be allocated thus: P5 billion for the credit guarantee program of the PhilGuarantee;  P30 billion to support banking facilities and equity infusion of the LBP in ARISE, Inc. under Section 5 of this Act; P15 billion to support banking facilities and equity infusion of the DBP in ARISE, Inc. under Section 5 of this Act; P1 billion in additional funding for the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program of the Small Businesses and for its other lending programs to be extended to micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and by other socio-economic reversals.

There is also P20 billion for direct cash or loan interest rate subsidies, under the programs of the Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC) and other forms of assistance to qualified agri-fishery enterprises, farmers, and fisherfolk registered under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA); and to finance the Plant, Plant, Plant Program ensuring food security and continuous productivity in the agricultural sector including accessibility through farm to market roads; P10 billion for financing the programs of the DOTr to assist the critically affected businesses in the transportation industry, provision of temporary livelihood to displaced workers in the industry through the grant of partial subsidy for service contracting of public utility vehicles, as provided for in this Act; and for the development of accessible sidewalks and protected bicycle lanes, procurement of bicycles and related safety equipment for bicycle distribution, sharing and lending programs, and procurement of bicycle racks;  P10 billion to finance the programs of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to assist the recovery of the tourism industry that shall include the provision of tourism infrastructures; P100 million to finance the training and subsidies for tourist guides;  P3 billion to assist SUCs in the development of smart campuses through investments in ICT infrastructure, acquisition of learning management systems and other appropriate equipment to fully implement flexible learning modalities, including the provision of loan interest rate subsidies;  P600 million for subsidies and allowances to qualified students of public and private Tertiary Education Institutions; P300 million for subsidies and allowances of affected teaching and non-teaching personnel, including part time faculty, in private and public Tertiary Education Institutions including part-time faculty in SUCs;  P1 billion as additional scholarship funds of TESDA under its Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) and Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) for the retooling, retraining, and upskilling of displaced workers including returning OFWs; as well as provision of tool kits under the (STEP);  12 billion to finance DSWD programs, such as but not limited to: Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), Emergency Subsidy to cater for areas which will be placed on hard lockdown, Sustainable Livelihood Program for informal sectors not being catered by DOLE, distribution of food and non-food items, livelihood assistance grants, and supplemental feeding program for daycare children; and others.

“As we affix our signatures in this manifesto, we also reaffirm our support to President Duterte and commit ourselves to assist him in navigating our people out of the public health crisis engulfing the nation,” the manifesto said.

“Under President Duterte's leadership, and with the people's overwhelming support to all his undertakings, we trust that we shall overcome this crisis and stand stronger as a nation,” it added.