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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

16 February 2021 02:17:27 PM

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Tuesday he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of bipartisan support from his colleagues in the House of Representatives for his P420-billion stimulus package proposal to help the economy recover from COVID-19.

“I want to thank my colleagues for rising above party-lines and for always keeping Filipinos first as we unite to provide much-needed help to households and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Velasco said.

The Speaker issued the statement after 224 members from the House supermajority, minority and independent blocs have joined him either as principal authors or co-authors of the proposed Bayanihan to Arise As One Act or the Bayanihan 3 under House Bill (HB) 8628, which he filed earlier this month.

The bill 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 teachers and students; P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers; P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines; and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas affected 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.

No less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte affirmed the merits of Bayanihan 3 when he thanked Congress for pushing for the third installment of the government’s response to COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the economy.

"I thank Congress for understanding us and giving us the support, the critical support we badly need to discharge our duties," the President said in his televised public address last week.

Velasco said that Bayanihan 3 signifies the strong commitment of Congress to aid the Executive Department in its efforts to address the many problems the country is currently facing amid the pandemic.

“The 18th Congress, in its remaining legislative calendar, will carry out its duty to craft laws that will help our countrymen recover from this pandemic,” the House chief said. “We deemed it necessary to address all fronts in stimulating our economy back to health, and the Bayanihan 3 provides a holistic approach in addressing all our current woes.”

Among the salient features of Bayanihan 3, or HB 8628, is the allocation of P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.

Under Section 4 of the bill, the requirement of Phase IV trials for COVID-19 medication and vaccine stipulated in the Universal Health Care Law is waived to expedite the procurement of said medication and vaccine, provided that these are recommended and approved by the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized health agencies.

The bill also allows advance payment not exceeding 50 percent of the contract amount for the procurement of COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, unless otherwise directed by the President.

Bayanihan 3 will also provide reprieve for entrepreneurs as it seeks to waive registration and other related fees of micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs, and providing accommodation for the registration process and compliance of their businesses.

The bill also seeks to form the Bayanihan Council, which shall be tasked with ensuring that interventions are well-targeted to intended beneficiaries and funds are disbursed properly and in a timely manner.

“Our economy will fall further unless we provide it with much-needed intervention,” Velasco said.

He added: “Bayanihan 3 will give our economy a big boost. It will encourage spending among consumers and boost the confidence of MSMEs and other businesses. The bill, coupled with other timely and precise interventions, will help us recover faster from this pandemic.”

Aside from Velasco, 12 lawmakers signed as principal authors of HB 8628, namely: Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo; Senior Deputy Speaker Doy Leachon; Deputy Speakers Kristine Singson-Meehan, Bernadette Herrera, Weslie Gatchalian, Mikee Romero and Eric Martinez; Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit; Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain; Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona; Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez; and Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga.

A total of 212 members have signed as co-authors of HB 8628, which is currently pending with the Committee on Economic Affairs.