The House of Representatives is set to approve on third and final reading, and anytime soon, the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, an official said Friday.
Deputy Speaker for Finance and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte expressed hope that Congress will be able to provide President Rodrigo Duterte with special powers again to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
Bayanihan 2 “will give continued special powers to the President to beat the pandemic, which, according to the WHO [World Health Organization], has reached a dangerous stage of accelerated spread as governments across the world start relaxing mobility restrictions and reopening their economies,” Villafuerte said when he sponsored the bill on the floor on Aug. 5.
The leadership under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano expects House Bill 6953, or the Bayanihan 2 Act, to breeze through its final approval after the leaders of the different political parties and party list groups in the chamber signed a manifesto of unity committing its plenary passage at the soonest time possible, said Villafuerte, the measure's lead author in the House.
Villafuerte was also lead author in the House of Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which first gave special powers to the President in March to beef up the government's Covid-19 response. He also a co-leader of the social amelioration cluster of the House's Defeat Covid-19 Ad Hoc Committee led by Cayetano and co-led by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
HB 6953 provides P162 billion in funding for the government’s COVID-19 response measures, including some P10.5 billion to allow the hiring of additional healthcare workers and to provide additional allowances and benefits to medical frontliners, Villafuerte said.
The Senate has already approved its version of Bayanihan 2 with a smaller budget of P140 billion.
Following the House's final approval of HB 6953, both chambers could then hold bicameral conference committee negotiations to hammer out a consolidated version of Bayanihan 2 for submission to Duterte, and with luck by September or earlier, Villafuerte said.