President Rodrigo Duterte will sign any time this week the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, which aims to provide a COVID-19 relief package worth P165 billion, Malacañang said Monday.
“I don’t think the first two weeks of September will pass without the bill being signed. I think they’re aiming that the bill should be signed this week. Next week at the latest,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.
He made his statement even as House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez rallied his colleagues to quickly pass the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 as a major component of the Duterte administration’s plan to rebuild the economy and to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Romualdez, head of the House committee on rules, appealed to his colleagues to give their full cooperation in ensuring the swift passage of the national budget before the 18th Congress takes its break on Oct. 17.
“Our hybrid and virtual budget briefings and consultations will proceed so that we will have enough time to raise various concerns. We also appeal to our colleagues to avoid repetitive questions during the deliberations,” Romualdez said in response to the appeal of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III for Congress’ swift enactment of the proposed budget.
Roque said the Palace was consulting agencies on the contents of the proposed Bayanihan 2, which the President endorsed to Congress in July.
“The reason why it’s taking a little long, though it hasn’t been that long yet, is the consultation with concerned government agencies,” Roque said.
He says the ordinary process takes a little while, but that once the consultation ends, the President will sign it since he is the one who asked for it from Congress.
The bill, ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives last month, will provide P50 billion to government’s financial institutions to provide soft loans to the sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cash subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 will also be given to the low-income households in the areas under granular lockdowns, and those with recently returned Filipino workers abroad and displaced workers.
Congress has allotted P13.5 billion for health-related responses, including the payment of a P10,000 special- risk allowance to both public and private medical frontliners, P3 billion for the procurement of face masks, face shields and personal protective equipment, and P4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities.
A total P4 billion has also been earmarked for the tourism industry, and of which P1 billion is for the Tourism Road Infrastructure Programs and P3 billion for cash-for-work programs and assistance to displaced workers.