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Drilon reveals bone of contention in ‘Bayanihan 2’ argument

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Friday said House lawmakers wanted to appropriate funds for the creation of toilets and roads under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act instead of supporting the tourism sector heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon said this is the reason why the Senate contingent in the bicameral conference committee of the measure, also known as “Bayanihan 2,” fought to ensure that the P10-billion assistance to the tourism industry would be intact.

“Ang ibig ng mga kongresista ay ilagay ito sa pagpapatayo ng kubeta at kalsada habang ang senado naman ay ipinaglaban natin yung position ng DOT na ito ay tulong sa pamamagitan ng soft loans (House lawmakers wanted to allocate the funds for the construction of toilets and roads, while the Senate fought hard to defend the position of the Department of Tourism that the funds be appropriated as cash aid through soft loans),” Drilon said in an interview over DZMM’s Teleradyo.

The bicam panel eventually agreed to allocate P1-billion for the tourism infrastructure under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P3-billion for displaced workers in the tourism industry; and P6-billion as loanable funds that can be availed through the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Small Business Corp. (SBC).

On Thursday night, the Senate ratified the final version of the measure, which has a maximum total appropriation of P165.5-billion.

“Hindi kami pumayag para gamitin ang P10-billion para sa pagpapatayo ng kubeta sa mga tourist areas dahil an gaming paniwala ay hindi ito makakatulong sa tourism enterprises at sa mga manggagawa sa tourism industry na nawalan ng trabaho, (We did not agree that the P10-billion be used to construct toilets in tourist areas because we believe this will not help the tourism enterprises and the workers in the tourism industry who lost their jobs),” the minority leader pointed out.

“Uulitin ko lang, ang ibig ng House of Representatives ay ilagay ito sa pagpapatayo ng kubeta at farm-to-market roads at iba pang infrastructure sa ilalim ng TIEZA (I repeat, the House of Representatives wanted to utilize the funds for the creation of toilets and farm-to-market roads and other infrastructure under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority),” he pointed out.

After approving the bicam report, Sen. Pia Cayetano, sister of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, took a swipe at fellow colleagues for insinuating that their counterparts in the Lower House were advancing personal gain in the bicameral panel meeting when they were trying to reconcile the differences in the House and Senate versions.

“I take offense na ang dami natin parinig na parang yung sa kanila eh may personal gain…You all know that the Speaker is my brother and so I want to put on record that I was a member of the House of Representatives, I have met very honorable people from the House of Representatives who also fight just like you and me for their constituents,” Cayetano manifested during the Senate plenary session.

Prior to Cayetano’s manifestation, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri lauded the Senate contingent for “fighting tooth and nail” to keep the P10-billion aid for the tourism industry under the measure intact for the benefit of the sector.

Zubiri, nevertheless, emphasized that the House was gracious enough to accede to the Senate’s proposal.

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the finance committee, and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, said it was Speaker Cayetano who “loosened the deadlock” over the contentious P10-billion aid.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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