Senate ratifies final version of Bayanihan 2; P165.5-billion budget set aside to facilitate PHL economic recovery

(Eagle News)–The Senate on Thursday night ratified the reconciled version of the proposed Bayanihan law 2, with a stimulus of up to P165.5 billion for the country’s economic recovery.

The ratification came only hours after the Senate and the House came up with the reconciled version after coming to terms with several contentious issues, including a P10-billion assistance intended for the tourism industry.

According to Senator Sonny Angara, the ratified measure allots a  P140-billion budget in regular appropriations, and up to a P25.5 billion standby fund “if ever such amount is generated from savings and unused appropriations.”

The P140-billion  can be broken down as follows:

P3 billion for the procurement of face masks, PPEs, shoe covers, and face shields;

P4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories, and for the expansion of gov’t hospital capacity;-

P4.5 billion for the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) or NDRRMC isolation facilities and other requirements including billing of hotels, food and transportation used by COVID-19 patients;

P13.5 billion for the DOH to employ emergency Human Resources for Health;

P820 million as a fund for Overseas Filipinos under the Department of Foreign Affairs;

P13 billion for the government’s cash-for-work program and other support programs for impacted sectors;

P600 million as subsidies and allowances for students severely impacted by the pandemic;

P300 million as subsidies and allowances to teaching and non-teaching personnel, and party-time faculty in SUCs;

P180 million as allowance for national athletes and coaches;

P39.472 billion as capital infusion to government banks, broken down as follows:

*P10 billion for the DTI Small Business  Corporation  (SBCorp)-P4B of which will be devoted for low-interest loans to MSMEs, Cooperatives, Hospitals, and OFWs, and P6B for tourism;

*P18.4725 billion for the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP);

*P6 billion for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP); and

*P5 billion for the Philippine Guarantee Corporation.

P24 billion as assistance to the Agricultural Sector and the Plant, Plant, Plant initiative under the Department of Agriculture (DA);

P9.5 billion in assistance to the transportation industry;

P4 billion for the tourism industry, and another P100 million for tourist guides training and subsidies;

P3 billion for the development of smart campuses across the country;

P1 billion for TESDA scholarships;

P6 billion for DSWD’s assistance to individuals in crisis situations;

P4 billion for the DepEd’s implementation of digital education;

P1.5 billion as assistance to LGUs, with another P2 billion as subsidy for the payment of interest on loans secured by LGUs from government banks;

P5 billion for the DILG to hire more contact tracers;

P2.5 million for the computer-based licensure of the Philippine Red Cross;

P10 million for the research fund of the Health Technology Assesment Council, which was created under the UHC Law; and

P15 million for UP Diliman’s Computational Research Lab

According to Angara, the standby fund worth P25.5 billion is broken down as follows:

P10 billion for COVID-19 testing, and procurement of medication and vaccines;

P15.5275 billion as additional capital infusion to government banks (roughly P9 billion for the LBP and P6.5 billion for the DBP)

The measure also authorizes the President to exercise powers necessary to implement COVID-19 response and recovery interventions including expediting the accreditation of viral testing kits that diagnose COVID-19; hiring of skilled med techs, molecular biologists, epidemiologists and other skill lab technicians to conduct COVID-19 testing; providing emergency subsidies worth P5,000 to P8,000 to affected low-income households under “specific quarantine conditions and to households with recently-returned OFWs;” and providing unemployment or involuntary separation assistance worth P5,000 to P8,000 for displaced workers including seasonal, contractual, and casual workers in private hospitals; workers in tourism, culture and the arts, creative industries including film, audiovisual, and broadcast workers; construction; public transportation; trade industries; freelancers; self-employed; and repatriated OFWs.

There is also a provision for special risk allowances for public and private healthcare workers, on top of the hazard pay, and for compensation to public and private healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19—or P15,000 for mild or moderate cases; P100,000 for severe or critical; and P1 million in case of death.

The measure also provides for a one-time cash assistance to affected teaching and non-teaching personnel, including part-time faculty or non-permanent teaching personnel in both public and private schools; and part-time faculty in SUCs; and the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical equipment or supplies or essential goods, including PPEs, health care equipment and supplies.

There is also a 60-day grace period provided for the payment of all existing, current, and outstanding loans falling due on or before December 31, 2020; and a minimum  30-day grace period on residential and commercial rents of lessees not permitted to work, among many others.

The House of Representatives is expected to ratify the reconciled version, after which the bill shall be submitted to the President for his approval.