President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass additional legislation that would expedite the assistance for the business community affected by the coronavirus disease 2019.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made his appeal during his meeting with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Wednesday.
Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, head of the Senate committee on health, and House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Gomez Romualdez also attended the meeting where Duterte discussed the opening of the economy.
“The concern of investors and businessmen heavily affected by the pandemic is how to eradicate red tape and corruption and to shorten the process of government transactions,” Roque said in a virtual presser.
Duterte met with the Congress leaders a week after he signed into law the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2, which provides for a P165.5-billion fund to finance the country’s response and recovery interventions intended to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
Roque earlier considered the signing of Bayanihan 2 as crucial in the country’s efforts to re-open the economy, support businesses, and revitalize economic growth which was affected by the community restrictions to contain the virus.
The law’s stimulus package consists of P140 billion of regular appropriations and an additional standby fund of P25.5 billion.
Under the law, P3 billion will be allotted for the procurement of personal protective equipment, face masks, and face shields; P4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities and the expansion of government hospital capacity; and P13.5 billion for emergency employment and compensation of health workers.
A total of P4.5 billion will be used to finance isolation facilities, hotel accommodation, food, and transportation of Covid-19 patients; P5 billion for the hiring of contact tracers; P13 billion for the cash-for-work program; P9.5 billion for assistance to public utility drivers and other programs of the transportation department; P6 billion for “individuals in crisis” and other programs of the social welfare department; P4 billion for the tourism industry; and P4 billion for the education department’s implementation of digital learning.
The Bayanihan 2 is the second installment of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1), which gave Duterte emergency powers to address the Covid-19 crisis in the country.
The Bayanihan 1 law already expired on June 25.*PNA