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.”