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House ratifies Bayanihan 2, P165-billion stimulus

Four days after the Senate ratified the measure, the House of Representatives on Monday ratified the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or the Bayanihan 2, to facilititate the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Both houses of Congress, through the legislative bilateral committee, reconciled their approved versions of the bill and came up with a ₱165.5-billion stimulus plan.

House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said under Bayanihan 2, the vetting and validation of beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), as well as the related liquidation reports were ordered to be simplified to speed up the distribution of the subsidy.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the bill early next month shortly after it is sent to him, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.

Romualdez added the law mandates all government agencies involved in SAP distribution to submit to the Congress “a definitive and actual list of beneficiaries.”

"This will allow Congress to exercise its oversight function more efficiently in monitoring how these funds are disbursed to the beneficiaries. We do not want repeat of Bayanihan 1 where absence of database resulted to confusion in distribution of funds," Romualdez explained.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the measure “will help badly hit sectors recover and also cover compensation for medical frontliners and funding for medical supplies to better equip the health sector in its testing, contact tracing, and treatment efforts.”

Villafuerte said the Congress-approved Bayanihan 2 bill will “sustain the national government's Covid-19 response efforts, compensation arrangements for health workers  and social mitigation programs for low-income families, as well as introduce financial assistance packages for students, teachers and displaced workers.

Villafuerte chaired the House panel in the bicameral panel that hammered out the consolidated version of the sequel to Republic Act 11469 or  Bayanihan 1 that the Congress passed in March.

Villafuerte said among 40 major provisions of the House version that were adopted by the bicam panel included the measures to beef up the country's COVID-19 contact-tracing capacity, strengthen the capacity of local governments to realign funds for their coronavirus response efforts, and help pandemic-hit businesses recover from the crisis. 

He also admitted that P165.5 billion was not enough for COVID-19 response “but only that much is what is available right now.”

Topics: House of Representatives , Bayanihan 2 , coronavirus pandemic , Martin Romualdez
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