Second tranche of cash aid to continue despite questions on Bayanihan Act's expiration

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Residents fall in line as they wait to receive the government's cash aid during the lockdown period (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — The national government and lawmakers may have differing opinions on the expiration of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, but one thing is for certain: Poor families affected by the COVID-19 crisis are still bound to receive the second tranche of cash assistance.

"Tuloy po ang second tranche ng ayuda kahit kailan pa nag-expire ang Bayanihan Act. Hindi po apektado ng expiration iyan dahil ang obligasyon at ang pera ay naririyan na. Hindi po iyan subject to expiration," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in his regular media briefing on Monday.

[Translation: The second tranche of cash aid will continue regardless when the Bayanihan Act expires. The assistance is not affected by the expiration since the money is already available. It is not subject to expiration.]

Families from Central Luzon (except Aurora province), Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Benguet, Pangasinan, Iloilo, Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Albay, and Zamboanga City will be getting the subsidy worth ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 in the second distribution. About 13.5 million families will benefit from the second tranche, the Social Welfare Department said, including five million families labelled as "waitlisted" or "additional" beneficiaries of the first tranche.

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Roque also said the plan to include jobless jeepney drivers in the third tranche is still being studied as the government still needs to check if there are "excess" funds.

He reiterated the government's position that the law giving President Rodrigo Duterte’s special powers to address the COVID-19 crisis will remain in effect until June 25. Among the powers granted to Duterte under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act include the ability to rechannel funding within the executive department towards the government’s COVID-19 response.

However, some senators noted during Senate's session on June 4 that the Bayanihan law had expired, following the Constitution's provisions. Congress did not manage to extend Duterte’s special powers beyond this month as it adjourned on June 5 without passing a new law for an extension of the special powers.

READ: 'There will be an accounting,' Cayetano says, citing problems in implementation of Bayanihan Act

The Senate waited for Malacañang to certify as urgent the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act but Roque said the Palace decided not to.