MANILA – Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday said the House of Representatives will hasten the plenary approval of the proposed Bayanihan to Arise As One Act, or Bayanihan 3, once sessions resume on May 17.
Velasco made the statement in a radio interview a day after the Ways and Means Committee approved the third Bayanihan measure, which would contain another round of stimulus package worth PHP405.6 billion to fund direct emergency and social amelioration to Filipinos, livelihood interventions, as well as food security and health interventions.
“As soon as we get back on May 17, we will fast-track the approval of Bayanihan 3,” he said.
The bill only needs the approval of the Committee on Appropriations before endorsement to the plenary on second and third readings.
The bill will provide funding of PHP108 billion for the implementation of a cash subsidy program of PHP1,000 for every Filipino and another PHP108 billion in standby funds.
“Lahat po dapat mabigyan natin ng tulong ngayong pandemya (Everyone should be given aid during this pandemic),” Velasco said.
“It has to be equitable. Hindi ‘yung isang household bibigyan ng certain amount, eh baka tatatlo lang sila sa bahay tapos ang isang household naman ay 15 ang myembro (One household with only three members shouldn’t receive an amount equal to another household that has 15 members).”
Velasco said the House is constantly communicating with the Department of Finance (DOF) as to the funding sources for Bayanihan 3.
“Konting discussions na lang with DOF, ma-ipapasa na natin ito (Just a few more discussions with the DOF, then we could pass this already,” he said.
Under the measure, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas may make additional advances, with or without interest, to the national government of up to 10 percent of the average income of the national government for fiscal years 2018 to 2020 to finance expenditures authorized by law to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mandatory dividend remittances by government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) will also be increased from 50 percent to 75 percent, while the President will have the power to withdraw capital from overcapitalized GOCCs.
Velasco said that while the two previous Bayanihan laws have increased the government’s initial capacity to respond to the pandemic, these were “not sufficient for the genuine economic recovery of the country.”
He said a third economic stimulus package is necessary to provide the much-needed lifeline to individuals, families, and businesses severely affected by the pandemic.
The bill states that around PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 1 of assistance for households in crisis situations under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Some PHP12 billion in stand-by funds shall be appropriated for Phase 2 and PHP6 billion for Phase 3 of the AICS program.
To assist micro, small, and medium enterprises, the Small Business Wage Subsidy program shall be continued and expanded with direct funding of PHP8 billion, and stand-by funds worth PHP8 billion for Phase 2 and PHP4 billion for Phase 3.
To provide temporary employment to displaced workers, around PHP10 billion shall be appropriated for the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers, Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program, and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program, while PHP10 billion shall be appropriated as stand-by funds for Phase 2 and PHP5 billion for Phase 3.
The agri-fishery sector will receive PHP30 billion worth of standby funds to finance programs and interventions toward food security and farmer income security and welfare.
The bill likewise allocates PHP3 billion of medical assistance for indigent patients, and stand-by funds worth PHP3 billion each for Phases 2 and 3.
A total of PHP54.6 billion shall be allocated to the Pension and Gratuity Fund for retired military and the police, while PHP5.6 billion shall be appropriated to assist the Department of Education in the implementation of its digital education, information technology, and digital infrastructure and alternative learning modalities as part of the pandemic response and transition to a new normal. (PNA)