Speaker bares goals of Bayanihan 2

Speaker: Bayanihan 2 to remake our society.

MORE than just a reaction to the ravages of the coronavirus disease-19  (COVID-19) pandemic, the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill is a  response to “the bigger challenge of remaking our society” and  “spreading the wealth” to underdeveloped areas of the country.

“We want Bayanihan II to be a living piece of legislation that will empower our industries and revitalize sectors of society that have  been decimated by the virus, or were otherwise forgotten and neglected  in the past,” Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said in his remarks before  the House of Representatives approved House Bill 6953 on final reading  on Monday.

The House voted 262 in the affirmative and only six in the negative on  the measure, which Cayetano said places the lives and livelihood at  its center.

“We have placed public health, MSMEs, OFWs, our athletes, the creative  industry, social amelioration, and jobs, jobs, jobs at its center,” said Cayetano.

Deputy Speaker and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC)  party-list Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva hailed the passage of  the measure, which carries with it a provision mandating disclosure  and transparency on procurements to be made by the government under  the measure.

“On top of the billions of appropriations provided in the bill to fund  the necessary and needed government programs aimed at social  amelioration and recovery of the economy, CIBAC takes joy in the  inclusion and approval of Section 3(t) which mandates that government  must disclose all the procurements made in relation to its response  efforts to the COVID-19 crisis. This will make sure that all contracts  will be readily brought into the light of public scrutiny thus making  it easy to trace any form of overpricing and corruption which is very  detestable and unconscionable during these times wherein the entire  country is grappling for survival,” said Villanueva, founder of Jesus  Is Lord Church Worldwide (JIL Church) and the House Deputy Speaker for  Good Governance and Moral Uprightness.

Section 3 of House Bill (HB) 6953 states that procurements of “(1) personal protective equipment, testing kits and supplies/equipment as  maybe determined by the Department of Health, (2) good and services  for social amelioration measures, (3) lease of real property or venue  for use to house health workers or serve as quarantine centers,  medical and relief aid distribution locations or temporary medical  facilities, (4) establishment, construction and operation of medical  facilities, (5) utilities, telecommunications and other critical  services in relation to operation of quarantine centers and (6) other  ancillary services related to the foregoing must be published in the  Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) online portal, the website  of the procuring entity concerned and at any conspicuous place  reserved for the purpose in the premises of the procuring entity  within seven (7) days from the date of acceptance of award.”

Further, it mandates that the disclosure shall include the “(1)  project name, (2) approved budget for contract, (3) contract period,  (4) name of winning supplier, distributor, manufacturer, contractor or  consultant, (5) amount of contract as awarded, (6) Notice of Award,  (7) date of award of acceptance, (8) contract purchase order, and (9)  a certication that the procuring entity exerted all efforts to secure  the most advantageous price to the government.”

“We also hope this will be the birth and a prelude to the culture of  genuine openness and transparency in the government which one of the  pet legislations of CIBAC, the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, is  aiming for. This is very empowering not only to Congress which exerts  oversight in the execution of laws but, more importantly, to the  Filipino people so they’ll know where and how their taxes are being  spent,” Villanueva stressed.

CIBAC Rep. Domeng Rivera also expressed hope that the  provision will still be adopted when the corresponding Bayanihan 2  measures of both the House and the Senate are set for bicameral  conference committee deliberations.

“Importante po talaga na maisama ang provision na ito sa magiging  Bayanihan 2 law para masiguradong magiging transparent ang pag gastos  ng gobyerno ngayong COVID-19 crisis. Bibigyan din ng probisyong ito ng  pagkakataon ng pamahalaan na ipakita ang sinseridad at determinasyon  nito na labanan ang korapsyon lalo ngayon na maraming serysosong  alegasyon ng pagnanakaw ng kaban ng bayan ang ating nababalitaan,”  said Rivera.

The approved bill proposes a total appropriation of P162 billion to  fund the various coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) health protocol,  social amelioration and economic recovery measures of the government.

Cayetano said the agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing sectors will  receive a boost in Bayanihan 2 as these three sectors “will form the  spear-tip of our recovery effort and will help put people back to work  and revitalize the economy.”

He said while government will lead the way in adapting, innovating,  and managing every aspect of the public health and economic crisis,  there is a need to aim not just for survival but for greatness amidst  tribulation.

“Maganda ang programang pantawid, pero hindi pwedeng habambuhay ay  pantawid na lang,” he added.

Cayetano said Bayanihan 2 is “a huge first step” to recovery and urged  Filipinos to cooperate and act as one nation in order to make it work.

“All that the government has done or can do will be for nothing if we,  as individuals, fail to do our part,” he said.

He also expressed faith in the Filipino people who he said can find  the discipline and spirit of unity that is vital to save lives and  livelihoods.

Addressing frontliners who have been working tirelessly since the  pandemic began in March, Cayetano gave assurance that Congress “will  continue working and we will do better.”