Senate passes Bayanihan 2 bill on final reading

The Senate on Tuesday passed the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act on third and final reading, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte called for its immediate passage during his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).
Senate Bill 1564 was approved with 22 affirmative votes and one negative vote. Only Senator Francis Pangilinan voted “No.”
The Bayanihan 2 bill provides for a PHP140-billion stimulus fund for various socio-economic and health programs as part of the government’s recovery plan amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Under the proposed me-asure, PHP10 billion will be appropriated for testing and extraction kits, supplies, materials, and reagents for Covid-19 testing, as well as boosting the capacity of the Department of Health (DOH).
The bill also provides for the allocation of PHP15 billion for a cash-for-work program in communities, and another PHP17 billion in assistance to displaced workers or employees.
Meanwhile, PHP50 billion will be given to different government financial insti-tutions for the grant of low-interest loans to businesses in distress, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The amount is broken down to: PHP 5 billion to the Philippine Guarantee Corporation; PHP 30 billion to the Land Bank of the Philippines; and PHP 15 billion to the Development Bank of the Philippines.
For the agriculture sector, PHP17 billion is allocated for direct cash subsidy, interest-free loans and other forms of assistance to farmers, fishermen, livestock raisers and other agricultural enterprises under the Plant-Plant-Plant program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The Department of Trans-portation (DOTr) will be allocated PHP 17billion to assist transportation workers who have lost their jobs, and for the development of a bicycle infrastructure.
The measure also provides a PHP10-billion fund for the tourism sector, which was the first to be directly and severely hit by the pandemic.
For the education sector, a PHP3-billion fund is provided for state universities and colleges (SUCs) for the development of “smart campuses” to implement flexible learning.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will be also be allocated PHP1 billion for technical and vocational courses for workers, including displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who needed to retool, retrain and upgrade their skills amid the new normal.