Press Release
August 20, 2020

Zubiri Pushes for MSME, Tourism and Coop Assistance, and COVID-19 vaccines budget in Bayanihan 2

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri championed the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), tourism, and cooperative sectors during the bicameral conference committee meetings for the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2.

Bayanihan 2 seeks to provide an economic stimulus package that will allow businesses to recover from financial losses incurred during the different stages of community quarantines that have been enforced throughout the country since March.


"If Bayanihan 2 is going to work, it's going to have to address the needs of all sectors--that includes our coops and our MSMEs," Zubiri said. He chairs the Senate Committee on Cooperatives. "Coops and MSMEs are the lifeline of our communities, especially in rural areas. We cannot recover if we leave them behind."

His amendments to Bayanihan 2 will open credit availability to cooperatives at low interest rates. Particulary, the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), and the Philippine Guarantee Corporation (PhilGuarantee), the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), will be directed to include cooperatives in their loan and guarantee programs. Cooperatives will also be enjoying a 30-day grace period for utility and rent payment, as well as inclusion in the P13 billion wage subsidy for displaced workers.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) are all mandated to extend assistance to agri-coops, transport cooperatives and cooperatives engage in tourism-related activities, respectively, through their loan and subsidy programs.

In particular, the DA is set to include agriculture cooperatives in its P24B funds for the provision of direct cash or loan subsidies, to finance the Plant, Plant, Plant Program while transport cooperatives are included in the DOTr's direct cash and loan subsidy, and temporary livelihood programs amounting to P9.5 Billlion. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), meanwhile, is to assist MSMEs and cooperatives by providing trainings and capacity building to help them migrate towards e-commerce or onlinebusiness, digital trading and digital financial services.


"I know the tourism industry has not been completely satisfied with the older versions of the bill," he admitted.

"Upon the proposal of the Senate, the Bicam panel allocated a budget for for tourism MSME loan programs under the SBCorp of which cooperatives engage in tourism-related activities can also avail of. I know the industry needs a lot of help right now, because it's really been hit hard by the pandemic. No one's traveling. Our tourism MSMEs--our tour guides, our hotels and restaurants, our pasalubong cottage industry--they've had basically no source of income for months."

Zubiri amended Bayanihan 2 to mandate SBCorp to extend its loan programs to MSMEs, cooperatives, OFWs and MSMEs in the tourism industry. This will be accommodated for under his amendment to increase SBCorp's funding by P10 billion, allowing for the expansion of its existing COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Medicines

While economic recovery remains the main aim of Bayanihan 2, the bill also addresses the country's more immediate medical needs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To this end, Zubiri introduced an amendment to include the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines in the government's immunization program, and at the same time allow private entities to conduct research, develop, manufacture, import, distribute or sell COVID-19 vaccine sourced from registered pharmaceutical companies, subject to the provisions of this Act and existing laws, rules and regulations.

The Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Bayanihan 2 in an extended Session on Thursday, 20 August 2020.

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