MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday believed that Congress need not fast-track the passage of a supplement measure to Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which already lapsed on June 25.
In a virtual press briefing aired on state media PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said lawmakers may deliberate on the proposed law called “Bayanihan 2” when they open their second regular session on July 26.
Roque made the statement as he assured the public that the government is taking appropriate actions to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic despite the expiration of RA 11469.
“Sa tingin ko, mangyayari iyan pero hindi kinakailangang mabilisin dahil lahat po ng ating kinakailangan para sa Covid-19, meron na po tayo (I think it [the passage of Bayanihan 2] will happen but we don’t need to rush it because we already have what we need to combat Covid-19),” he said.
RA 11469, which allows Duterte to use 31 special powers to arrest the further spread of Covid-19 in the country, expired on June 25.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have already drafted different versions of a new measure that would replace RA 11469 to extend Duterte’s emergency powers.
However, the Senate and House bills are different from the proposed law the executive branch wants to push, which limits the funding to only PHP140 billion.
Roque said Duterte has no plan yet to ask senators and congressmen to hold a special session since discussions on the proposal to pass Bayanihan 2 can be done during the opening of Congress’ second regular session.
“Well, it does not have to happen overnight. I hope it happens soon. Pero sa ngayon po, wala pa po tayong request na mag-special session at mukhang kakayanin naman pong i-discuss itong Bayanihan 2 (As of now, we have not requested a special session because it can be tackled) during the (second) regular session,” he said.
One of the special powers granted to Duterte under the now-expired RA 11469 is the granting of emergency subsidies ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to some 18 million poor families affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
The 18 million low-income households who are residing in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in April have already received the first tranche of cash aid under the national government’s social amelioration program (SAP).
However, only 12 million of the 18 million original beneficiaries of the first wave of financial aid would benefit from the implementation of the second round of SAP, according to a Palace memorandum dated May 22.
Some five million waitlisted beneficiaries would join the 12 million existing SAP beneficiaries, bringing the total number of recipients of the second wave of cash aid to 17 million.
More than 1.3 million have already received the second SAP aid, Malacañang said on Monday.
Roque assured the speedy release of the second tranche of SAP assistance, once the digital payment begins.
“They’re dealing with the fact that it is now being distributed electronically. Huwag naman po tayong masyadong mainip dahil kapag napagana na po iyang electronic distribution, in one to two days, tapos na po iyan (Let’s not be impatient because once the electronic distribution starts, the release of payouts would be done in one to two days),” he said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced that it would sign a memorandum of agreement with several financial service providers for the electronic distribution of the second wave of cash assistance to poor families.
The DSWD, the lead agency tasked to oversee the implementation of SAP, said GCash, RCBC, Robinsons Bank, PayMaya, and UnionBank have qualified to undertake the electronic disbursement of financial assistance through restricted transnational accounts. (PNA)