POLITICAL parties, including the opposition Liberal Party (LP) allied with the House majority and party-list groups, in the House of Representatives on Thursday reaffirmed their full support and commitment for the swift passage of the proposed Bayanihan: We Recover as One bill (Bayanihan 2) as soon as possible.
The signatories of manifesto were led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, and Deputy Speakers LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur and Paolo “Pulong” Duterte of Davao City.
“We join the Filipino nation in solidarity as we continue our collective action to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease in the country, with the hope to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on people's lives,” said Romualdez.
Cayetano said the President made the appeal because of the “dire situation” the country faces.
“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 to pass the Bayanihan 2 bill at the soonest possible time,” said Cayetano.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter “Sharky” Wee Palma ll, one of Romualdez’s main Floor Leaders and acknowledged by Cayetano as the workhorse of the House Plenary, signed for Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
“We affirm our support to President Rodrigo Duterte and commit ourselves to assist him in navigating our people out of the public health crisis engulfing the nation,” said Palma, a Lakas-CMD stalwart.
Deputy Speakers Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga, Raneo Abu of Batangas and Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA party-list group signed for the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Nationalista Party (NP) and party-list groups, respectively; Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmarinas City in Cavite for National Unity
Party (NUP), Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice for LP, and Valenzuela Rep. Weslie Gatchalian for Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
“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,” said Barzaga, president of NUP and chairman of the House committee on natural resources.
“This will empower the national government and local government units to respond to the crisis, enabling us to slow down the rate of infection and spare our people from starvation caused by community quarantines,” Abu pointed out.
“The House and political leaders are declaring our solidarity with the national leadership and the nation in general as we continue our collective action to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-19) in the country, with the hope to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on people’s lives,” said Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon, a friend of Lakas-CMD led by Romualdez as President.
On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) No. 6953 or the proposed P162 billion Bayanihan 2 on second reading.
In a manifesto, the political leaders said they are responding to the call President Duterte made in his State of the Nation Address on July 27 for Congress to pass the proposed law “to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and speed up our country’s recovery from the pandemic.”
According to them, the bill seeks to allocate P162 billion to help the affected sectors.
They recalled that last March 23, Congress passed “with a sense of urgency” the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law, giving President Duterte additional authority to combat the pandemic.
“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-19 cases continues to rise, some business establishments have resorted to closure and millions of Filipinos face the threat of unemployment,” they 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,” they said.
Among the components of the PhP162-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), 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).