House raring to take up Bayanihan II

Luis Raymund Villafuerte

THE House of Representatives is ready to tackle the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan II and only waiting for Malacanang to ask Congress to hold a special session,. Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, author of the measure, said.

The regular session of the 18th Congress will resume on the 4th Monday of this month coinciding with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Meanwhile, San Jose Del Monte Rep. Rida Robes said that should Bayanihan 2 fail to be acted on in the special session it should be a priority in the resumption of Congress.

Villafuerte, who is the lead author in the House of the proposed Bayanihan 2 bill, underscored the need for the bill which seeks to extend the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that granted Duterte additional powers to address the pandemic.

“We will be ready to hold a special session any day now to pass Bayanihan II, in support of President Duterte’s all-out efforts to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, provide relief to the poor and other sectors reeling from the crisis, and to steer the economy to a quick recovery,” Villafuerte said.

“We in the House will not shirk our responsibility to help our country and our people weather this unprecedented global health emergency—in the same way that it took us only a day to pass the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” he added.

According to Villafuerte, the  House leaders are in continuous discussions with senators and officials of the executive department on the proposed provisions of Bayanihan 2.

In addition, Villafuerte also expressed hopes that the executive department could raise more funds for the proposed measure, saying that revenue collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have started to pick up this June.

For her part, Robes said lawmakers should unite once again to set aside political differences to pass the Bayanihan To Recover as One Act or Bayanihan II under substitute House Bill 6953.

“We have done it before and I hope we will do it again. We should strive to set aside our political differences for the good of our countrymen who are now suffering because of this pandemic. There should be no delay once session resumes on July 27, 2020,” Robes said.

The House Committee of the Whole approved HB 6953 last June 4. It went pass the period of debate and sponsorship. Once session resumes, it is expected to go into a period of amendments before it is submitted for approval on second reading.

Robes is one of the principal authors of HB 6853 having earlier filed Resolution No. 910 which called for the extension of the effectivity of Republic Act No. 11469 of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act until such time that a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19 has been developed.

In her Resolution, she pointed out that despite the easing of restrictions, the World Health Organization, scientists and health experts have been one in warning that COVID-19 will remain a threat until a cure or a vaccine for the virus has been developed and nations are advised not to let their guard down.