House finalizes proposed Bayanihan 3

The House of Representatives is “finalizing” the proposed third Bayanihan law with P420 billion worth of funds seeking to aid pandemic-hit Filipinos amid extended lockdowns.

Deputy Speaker Michael Romero disclosed this to the media on Tuesday, saying that once lawmakers from the Lower House completed fast-tracking the measure, a special session of Congress will be requested from Malacañang in order to pass the proposed stimulus package.

House leaders, he added, will also appeal to certify Bayanihan 3 as urgent.

The 1-PACMAN partylist representative shared that this was tackled when House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday called for an emergency meeting through Zoom last 12 April.

The conference was attended by major political blocs leaders.

House bill no. 6828—which Velasco and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo had filed—proposed to provide each household member P1,000 and on top of this, students and teachers will be given another P1,000 allowance.

Displaced workers, meanwhile, will receive P8,000.

Aside from this, the appropriation under the bill includes P52-billion aid to small businesses; P100-billion support for the capacity-building of businesses in critically impacted sectors; and P108-billion additional relief packages of the social department.

It also seeks to grant P70-billion aid to farmers, livestock producers, and fishermen.

Looking for sources

Velasco, for his part, disclosed that the country’s economic managers are now studying possible funding sources for Bayanihan 3, a proposal seen as a “lifeline” amid the pandemic which already caused deep economic suffering and loss of sources of income for many.

Velasco explained that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado have informed him in a virtual meeting last 8 April that the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management are currently identifying sources of funds for the proposed measure.

During the virtual meeting with House leaders on Monday, Velasco thanked Dominguez and Avisado for recognizing the importance of Bayanihan 3 “in addressing financial gaps to better manage the government’s response to the impact of the pandemic.”

“Our economic managers see Bayanihan 3 as a lifeline for many Filipinos facing economic hardship during this crisis, and I’m very glad that we are aligned on this,” he said.

The bill is pending with the House Committee on Economic Affairs, which created a technical working group to consolidate all Bayanihan 3-related measures.

Velasco expects that the measure will be approved by the committee before the House resumes session on 17 May.

“We are extremely hopeful for the passage of Bayanihan 3, which is a much-bigger, well-targeted and proportionate stimulus package that would help struggling Filipinos and revive our pandemic-ravaged economy,” Velasco said.

“A third round of fiscal support is in order to relieve the economic struggle experienced by many Filipinos, particularly those with low incomes, and help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic,” he added.

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

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