President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday signed the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), which provides a P165.5 billion fund to boost the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.

Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea confirmed that Mr. Duterte signed on Friday the Bayanihan II law, which also extends the special powers granted by Congress to the President to deal with the health crisis.

The Bayanihan II law will provide a stimulus package of P140 billion plus a P25.5 billion standby fund. The law is expected to benefit industries and sectors affected by the COVID-19 crisis, while also providing more funding to the healthcare sector.

This is a follow up to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which was signed last March 24. The first Bayanihan law granted Mr. Duterte special powers to realign the funds under the 2019 and 2020 national budgets to COVID-19 measures. The law expired on June 24.

The second Bayanihan law will expire on December 31, 2020.

Bayanihan II forms part of the Finance department’s P180-billion stimulus plan, which also includes the tax relief contained in the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE).

Mr. Duterte first imposed a Luzon-wide lockdown in mid-March to contain the spread of the COVID-19. The stringent lockdown halted nearly all economic activity, plunging the economy into a recession when gross domestic product contracted by a record 16.5% in the second quarter. — Gillian M. Cortez