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Speaker proposes P420-billion 'Bayanihan 3' bill

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Speaker proposes P420-billion 'Bayanihan 3' bill
Undated file photo shows an ongoing House session at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines. Social distancing protocols are observed.
STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco disclosed Sunday that he had filed the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act" or the Bayanihan 3 in an attempt to help spur the country's economic recovery in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement sent to reporters, Velasco claimed that 115 members of major political parties and blocs in the administration-allied supermajority in the lower chamber have already signaled their support for the measure and their intent to co-author House Bill No. 8628, which he filed with Rep. Stella Quimbo (Marikina, 2nd District).

Velasco also claimed that the first two iterations of the stimulus law were “not sufficient for the genuine economic recovery of the country.”

“Given that actual economic output in 2020 was far below what was assumed for budget purposes, and further losses may still be incurred as the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to prevail well into the current fiscal year, an additional economic stimulus package is needed to help the government meet its recovery targets for the year,” Velasco said.

Velasco has also proposed amending the 1987 Constitution to remove restrictions on foreign ownership that lawmakers say are keeping investors away. The move is meant to help the Philippine economy recover, proponents said.

According to the House speaker, the proposed appropriation in Bayanihan 3 includes:

  • P52 billion for subsidies to small business for wages and other worker-related expenses;
  • P100 billion for the capacity-building of businesses in critically impacted sectors;
  • P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households through programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development;
  • P70 billion for the provision of assistance and capacity-building to farmers, livestock producers and fishermen;
  • P30 billion for the implementation of unemployment assistance and cash-for-work programs under the Department of Labor and Employment;
  • P30 billion for internet allowances to primary, secondary and tertiary students and teachers in public and private educational institutions;
  • P5 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas, including the repair, reconstruction and/or construction of flood control works, roads, bridges, public buildings and other damaged public works, to be distributed proportionately among provinces and cities affected;
  • P25 billion to the Department of Health for the procurement of COVID-19 medication and vaccines, and to finance logistics, information awareness campaigns, and other related operational expenses.

To recall, the second iteration of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act had already lapsed by end-December. However, President Rodrigo Duterte in early January extended the validity of appropriations under the law until June 30, 2021.

As early as November, lawmakers had already filed their own versions of the Bayanihan 3 seeking free vaccination and assistance to the agriculture, health, and education sectors. 

In January, Quimbo said such a measure would be a necessity in the wake of the record 9.5% contraction in the country’s gross domestic product amid the pandemic. “Prior to the pandemic, our government spending growth in 2019 was already at 8.7 percent. Now with the pandemic and with the worst economic recession, government spending growth in 2020 was only at 10.38 percent... Our spending is the lowest in the ASEAN,” she said. 

“Government must therefore take the lead to promote business and consumer confidence and social welfare. Increased, well-targeted spending is a vital step to achieving these goals,” Velasco said in his press release. 

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he felt a third iteration of the law would no longer be necessary to give the extension of the second. 

“We’re not discussing it...Bayanihan 2 is still in progress and I think they’re [the executive department] doing well, They’re doing fine, I can’t say it’s bad," Sotto said at a media forum in mid-January.

Franco Luna with a report from Xave Gregorio and The STAR

BAYANIHAN

BAYANIHAN TO HEAL AS ONE ACT

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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