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Senators opposed the move of their counterparts from House of Representatives to lodge P10 billion with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for infrastructure projects during the discussions on the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

In a radio interview Friday (August 21), Drilon said there was a lengthy discussion during the bicameral conference committee meetings on where the P10 billion for the tourism sector’s recovery should be used.

“Ito ang mahabang diskusyon na nangyari, dahil ang ibig ng mga kongresista ay ilagay ito sa pagpapatayo ng kubeta at kalsada,” he said.

“Ang Senado naman ay ipinaglaban natin ‘yung position ng DOT (Department of Tourism) na ito ay tulong sa pamamagitan ng soft loans para doon sa mga maliliit na kumpanya na nagsara o nahirapan sa COVID-19 pandemic,” Drilon added.

The Senate President said lawmakers from both the Senate and House eventually agreed to remove funding for TIEZA.

“Kasama ang debate sa aming trabaho. At the end of the day, nagkasundo kami kung paano gagastusin ang pera para sa turismo. Hindi po kubeta at kalsada ang gagawin kung hindi ibibigay sa mga manggagawa na natanggal at nawalan ng trabaho at para doon sa mga kumpanya sa tourism industry,” he said.

Politiko earlier reported that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano pushed for the placement of P10-billion tourism recovery fund in the Bayanihan 2 under TIEZA as “pabaon” or parting gift for his allies.

Drilon said the bicameral conference committee has decided that P6 billion will go to assistance programs for micro, small and medium enterprises within the tourism sector, while displaced tourism workers will receive P3 billion in aid.

The remaining P1 billion from the tourism sector’s recovery fund will go to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The House is set to ratify the measure on August 24 while the Senate already did so on Thursday (August 20).

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