House pushing for another COVID-19 stimulus package

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
House pushing for another COVID-19 stimulus package
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the workers affected by localized lockdowns as well as the businesses that were, once again, forced to shut down would need the financial aid.
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MANILA, Philippines — The House leadership yesterday pushed its proposed Bayanihan 3 law to provide another round of economic stimulus package as the government enforces stricter restrictions amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the workers affected by localized lockdowns as well as the businesses that were, once again, forced to shut down would need the financial aid.

“There are a lot of Filipinos who are suffering financially and are in dire need of help now. A third economic stimulus package will provide the much-needed lifeline to individuals, families and businesses severely affected by the pandemic,” the Marinduque congressman pointed out.

Velasco was referring to his own version of the Bayanihan 3 bill that proposed a P420-billion fund to stimulate the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. He filed the measure in February after the passage of the bill extending the validity of Bayanihan 2 and upon seeing need to further allocate additional funds to help the nation cope with the pandemic.

To date, 224 members from the supermajority, minority and independent blocs in the House of Representatives signed either as principal authors or co-authors of the measure.

Lawmakers said reports that the Philippine economy contracted 9.5 percent in 2020 – the worst performance in the country’s post-war history – underscore the importance and urgency of passing swiftly Bayanihan 3.

They also cited a Philippine Statistics Authority report that around four million adult Filipinos, representing 8.7 percent of the labor force, lost their jobs in the first month of the year even as the economy further reopens.

House Bill 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act” seeks to allocate P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households, P100 billion for capacity-building for impacted sectors, P52 billion for wage subsidies, P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers, P30 billion for internet allowances to students and teachers, P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers, P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines, and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas impacted by recent floods and typhoons.

Under the measure, each household member will receive P1,000 regardless of their economic status. On top of this, a P1,000 allowance will be provided to each student and teacher, and P8,000 for every displaced worker.

The country’s economic managers had reportedly said they were not sure if the third stimulus package would still be necessary if quarantine restrictions were eased further and the economy moves faster.

However, Velasco said that during a recent virtual meeting, he got an assurance from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that efforts are being made to identify funding sources for Bayanihan 3.

“It’s a matter of finding revenues to be able to fund those programs. Secretary Dominguez did not actually shoot down Bayanihan 3. Definitely, he really wants to help the Filipino people. He just asked for time to look for funding,” the Speaker bared.


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