SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The Defeat Covid-19 Committee (DCC) Social Amelioration Cluster, co-chaired by Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr. (2nd District, Camarines Sur) and Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte), on Tuesday approved House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020."
Principally authored by Speaker Alan Peter "Compañero" Cayetano, the bill provides for a P1.5-trillion fund geared towards creating sustainable jobs that will provide employment and income-earning opportunities to the underprivileged especially in the rural areas affected by the pandemic.
Majority Leader and DCC co-chairperson Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the proposed "CURES Act of 2020" is anchored on the principle that government spending on infrastructure is a vehicle towards economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as it directly increases employment, adds to demand for goods and services through purchases of materials and equipment, and creates a multiplier effect through additional spending of hired workers.
The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” while the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the infrastructure building at the barangay level in areas of HEAL: Health - for the construction or improvement of barangay municipal health centers; Education – for expansion of school buildings to decongest classrooms, technical vocational learning centers, establishment of digital education in the public educational system; Agriculture – for construction repair or improvement of municipal provincial fish ports, trading centers; and Local roads and Livelihood projects – such as farm to market roads.
As one of the co-authors of the bill, Villafuerte urged his fellow lawmakers to support the immediate passage of the bill. Appropriation for the CURES Act fund shall be made available for three fiscal years from the approval of the Act.
“If we were able to provide over P200 billion on dole-outs through the Bayanihan Act, I think it is just right to provide P500-billion under the proposed CURES Act to create jobs. The rationale of this bill is that all infrastructure projects should be shovel ready. Hindi na po pwede na gagawa tayo ng mga proyekto na aabutin ng mga isa o dalawang taon, dapat implementable ito within 60 to 90 days para diretso na pong mabigyan ang mga tao ng hanapbuhay,” Villafuerte said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar expressed support for the bill and highlighted the needs of the fishery and agriculture sectors, such as regional trading centers and network of logistical support that would link the farmers and fishermen from the provinces to the urban areas.
“From the regional areas, we should have more regional trading posts where farmers can bring and sell initially their products. Otherwise, they can also bring their produce to metro areas. And the post-harvest facilities should also be in strategic areas so that the produce are properly packaged. Ito na yung panahon na pagbigyan natin ang agrikultura para sa ganun aangat na rin sila, dahil sila talaga ang tunay na bayani, in regard to producing enough food for the whole of the country,” Dar said.
Meanwhile, Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA) Deputy Director General Rosanna Urdaneta finds the proposed CURES Act of 2020 very significant as it can help the agency in carrying out their programs and strategies.
HB 6709, if enacted into law, can improve the number and capacity of TESDA’s Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centers that will include modern facilities and equipment, construction of e-learning centers, establishment of innovation centers, as well as the upgrading and expanding of TESDA’s online programs, she said.
Representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020.