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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

10 February 2021 04:17:55 PM

Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo on Wednesday expressed hope that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte would certify as urgent the P420-billion Bayanihan 3 bill, which she and Speaker Lord Allan Velasco filed to boost the country’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

Once enacted, House Bill (HB) 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act” would be the third installment of the government’s response to COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the economy.

“‘Ika nga third time is a charm at kung pwede po sana ma-certify na urgent ng Pangulo ang panukalang ito para mas maige po,” Quimbo said during the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan” news forum.

She added: “If there is one indisputable thing, that is the economy has turned out worse than what we had all expected and even the President agrees with this. Kaya ang panawagan namin sa Executive ay pagtulungan natin ito para makabangon ang ating mga kababayan.”

Quimbo said the government needs to infuse a substantial amount into the economy to prevent what she called “stagflation” or a combination of stagnant economy and high inflation.

She noted that compared to other Asian countries, the Philippines spent too little against its gross domestic product or GDP in 2020.

“Si Pangulong Duterte na po mismo ang nagsabi na masama ang sitwasyon ng ekonomiya,” Quimbo said, referring to the country’s 9.3 percent economic contraction in 2020, which is the worst performance in the nation’s post-war history.

“One of the main drivers of the decline is the decrease of 7.9 percent in household consumption. Meanwhile, government spending only contributed 1.3 percent to GDP growth last year. Kung kelan bagsak ang economiya at inaasahan ang gobyerno na mag pump-priming, napakaliit ng growth in government spending.”

HB 8628 seeks to allocate P420-billion fund for the implementation of much-needed COVID-19 response as well as recovery interventions grounded on economic inclusivity and collective growth.

The bill proposes 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.

These funding proposals were not considered in the National Expenditure Program, which Malacañang submitted last year to assist Congress in the review, deliberation and passage of the national budget for 2021.

“Marami tayong natutunan sa Bayanihan 1 at 2, ang sabi ni Speaker Velasco let’s identify mechanism for assistance that are simple and can be effectively implemented,” Quimbo added.

“Sa Bayanihan 3 po sabi ni Speaker Velasco wala ng lista o listahan. Lahat kasama,” Quimbo said of the cash assistance component of HB 8628.

Quimbo said that the Bayanihan 2’s appropriation of P165 billion and the 2021 national budget's P250 billion in COVID response items are “clearly insufficient to make up for our economic losses in 2020, which are estimated to be at P3.2 trillion.”

She also said that the government should have no problem allocating P420 billion as she claims that the country has P1.6 trillion cash balance as of November 2020.

“Ito po ay datos na galing mismo sa ating research office dito sa Kongreso, ‘yung pong CPBRD,” the lady solon said, referring to the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department. “Apart from this our total net borrowing is already at P2.82 trillion so we should have more than enough for what we need in Bayanihan 3.”

At the same time, Quimbo urged critics to look closely at Bayanihan 3 and how it can halt the steep decline of the country’s economy brought about by economic output stagnation and increase in inflation.

“Together with the significant decline in economic output, we have seen an increasing inflation rate, recorded at 4.2 percent in January,” Quimbo said. “Kapag magpatuloy ang pagtaas ng presyo ng pagkain at maapektuhan ang ibang sektor, baka magkaroon ng stagflation.”

“So, yes our economy is sinking, the inflation rate is increasing, while economic output is decreasing. Mayroon naman pong solusyon—ang Bayanihan 3,” she added.

At the latest count, 173 members of the supermajority, minority and independent blocs in the House of Representatives have manifested their support for HB 8628.#