President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the leaders of both 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 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made his appeal during his meeting with congressional leaders led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Wednesday.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” 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.
“Ang concern ng mga namumuhunan at negosyante na lubhang naapektuhan ng pandemya ay paano masugpo ang red tape at korapsiyon at mapaikli ang mga proseso sa government transactions (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.
Roque said the leaders of both houses of Congress promised to study and address the request of the President.
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 PHP165.5-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 PHP140 billion of regular appropriations and an additional standby fund of PHP25.5 billion.
Under the law, PHP3 billion will be allotted for the procurement of personal protective equipment, face masks, and face shields; PHP4.5 billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities and the expansion of government hospital capacity; and PHP13.5 billion for emergency employment and compensation of health workers.
A total of PHP4.5 billion will be used to finance isolation facilities, hotel accommodation, food, and transportation of Covid-19 patients; and PHP5 billion for the hiring of contact tracers.
Furthermore, PHP13 billion will be allocated for the cash-for-work program; PHP9.5 billion for assistance to public utility drivers and other programs of the transportation department; PHP6 billion for “individuals in crisis” and other programs of the social welfare department; PHP4 billion for the tourism industry; and PHP4 billion for the education department’s implementation of digital learning.
The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (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)
Source: Philippines News Agency