Photo by PNA

House speaker Lord Allan Velasco is proposing a P420 billion Bayanihan 3 law to further help stimulate the country’s economic recovery with the country’s economy still in recession and no end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press statement over the weekend, Velasco, together with Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, filed on February 4 House Bill (HB) No. 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act,” also known as Bayanihan 3.

So far, 115 members of major political parties and power blocs comprising the supermajority in the House of Representatives have expressed their support and signified their intent to co-author HB 8628.

While the two previous Bayanihan laws—Bayanihan to Heal As One and Bayanihan to Recover As One—increased the government’s initial capacity to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 crisis, Velasco said these were “not sufficient for the genuine economic recovery of the country.”

Citing recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Marinduque lawmaker noted that the Philippine economy contracted by 9.5 percent overall in 2020, the worst performance in the nation’s post-war history.

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This contraction, he said, is significantly deeper than the predicted contraction of 4.5 to 6.6 percent, which became the basis of the Development Budget Coordination Committee or DBCC for the 2021 National Expenditure Program.

“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.

The breakdown of the proposed P420-billion appropriation under Bayanihan 3 is as follows:

  • 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.

Velasco lamented that “uncertainty is the primary effect this pandemic has on every aspect of our lives.”

Faced with continued risk and uncertainty, Velasco said household consumption has significantly declined, contributing as much as 5.7 percent to the total 9.5 percent annual reduction in output in 2020.

“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 stressed.

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