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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

24 March 2021 05:17:51 PM

With more areas placed under localized lockdowns and some businesses were again forced to shut down due to upsurge in COVID-19 cases, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco renewed his call for another round of economic stimulus package to provide direct aid to Filipinos struggling during the pandemic.

“There are a lot of Filipinos who are suffering financially and are in dire need of help now,” Velasco said. “A third economic stimulus package will provide much-needed lifeline to individuals, families and businesses severely affected by the pandemic.”

Velasco was referring to his own version of the Bayanihan 3 bill that proposes a P420-billion fund to stimulate the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The House leader filed the measure in February after the passage of the bill extending the validity of Bayanihan 2, and upon seeing further need to allocate additional funds to help the nation cope with the pandemic.

To date, 224 members from the supermajority, minority and independent blocs in the House of Representatives have signed either as principal authors or co-authors of the measure.

Lawmakers said reports that the Philippine economy contracted 9.5 percent in 2020—the worst performance in the country’s post-war history—underscore the importance and urgency of passing swiftly Bayanihan 3.

House Bill 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act” 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 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.

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.

The country’s economic managers had reportedly said they were not sure if the third stimulus package would still be necessary if quarantine restrictions were eased further and the economy moves faster.

However, Velasco said that during a recent virtual meeting, he got an assurance from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that efforts are being made to identify funding sources for the Bayanihan 3.

“It’s a matter of finding revenues to be able to fund those programs. Secretary Dominguez did not actually shoot down Bayanihan 3,” Velasco said.

He added: “Definitely, he (Dominguez) really wants to help the Filipino people. Ang sinabi lang niya e give him time to look for the funding.”

Velasco said a third stimulus package is necessary in light of a Philippine Statistics Authority report that around 4 million adult Filipinos, representing 8.7 percent of the labor force, lost their jobs in the first month of the year even as the economy further reopens.#