Cayetano warns gov’t officials over ‘inexcusable’ Bayanihan law problems

Mara Cepeda
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano says the House 'will be having an accounting' of the problematic implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act

SUBSIDY PROGRAM. A mother and her 7-month-old son wait for the distribution of the government's emergency subsidy program on May 12, 2020 at Barangay San Jose in Rodriguez, Rizal. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House will hold accountable government officials over several “inexcusable” problems in the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. 

Cayetano issued the warning in a speech he delivered just before the House adjourned sine die on Friday, June 5. 

“We acted on the exigencies, we passed Bayanihan [to] Heal as One with the expectation and the agreement that it will be implemented very well. There are problems in implementation that are understandable, but there are problems in implementation that are inexcusable,” the Speaker said.  

“So, going into Bayanihan II, we commit to the Filipino people and to the President, we will be supportive, but we will follow the President’s lead, we will demand accountability. So, we will be asking the departments, we will be talking to them, we will be having an accounting,” Cayetano added.

The Bayanihan law, Republic Act No. 11469, gave President Rodrigo Duterte 30 special powers to address the coronavirus pandemic. This included the provision of an emergency subsidy to some 18 million poor households. 

But the subsidy program has been hounded with problems since the beginning, with several qualified beneficiaries forced to wait for weeks before getting the cash aid that had been promised to them.  

Millions of poor families who were expecting to get their second tranche of cash aid in May were left waiting as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has yet to finish validating its list to ensure there would be no duplication. 

Cayetano pinned the blame on DSWD’s failure of “not coming up with a better list” of beneficiaries. 

The original sin of not coming up with a better list and not even filling up the form spiraled into many problems,” the Taguig City-Pateros congressman said. 

Delayed aid for health workers

Cayetano then slammed the delayed release of the compensation to medical frontliners, echoing a similar speech made by his ally Senator Bong Go in the upper chamber. 

“I support Senator Bong Go’s statement in the Senate, and I’d like to echo it here, katulad po sa health workers natin: What reason on Earth can we give them to say na hindi tuloy na-release ang benefits o ‘yung konting ayuda o tulong dun sa frontliners na nagkasakit ng COVID dahil sa pagseserbisyo sa bayan?” Cayetano asked. 

(I support Senator Bong Go’s statement in the Senate, and I’d like to echo it here, like the issue with our health workers: What reason on Earth can we give them to say that there won’t be a continued release of benefits or assistance to fronliners who are now getting infected with COVID-19 because they are serving the country?)

The emergency powers granted to Duterte by the Bayanihan law lapsed when the House adjourned session on Friday afternoon. The Senate adjourned sine die on Thursday, June 4.  

Article VI Section 23(2) of the Constitution states that emergency powers granted by Congress to the President will cease once session adjourns.

This was why in the past few days, both the House and the Senate tried to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 to extend the the validity of the COVID-19 intervention programs in the initial law. 

But the Senate approved the bill only on 2nd reading, while the Bayanihan 2 has not yet even been sponsored for 2nd reading approval in the House.  

Malacañang earlier wanted Congress to extend the Bayanihan law, but the Bayanihan 2 bill is not an emergency powers bill. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.