Drilon urges Duterte to call for special session to approve Bayanihan 3 Law

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021   •   395

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special Congressional session for the immediate passage of the proposed third Bayanihan Law or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act that seeks to provide emergency cash assistance to families affected by the stricter protocols against COVID-19.

“I urge the President to call a special session of Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan 3 and expand the government’s cash subsidy program amid the spike in COVID-19 cases,” Drilon said in a statement.

The senator said there is a need to provide more funding for the government’s response against COVID-19 in order to help the poor and the vulnerable sectors of society and small and medium enterprises heavily affected by the pandemic.

“Kailangan tugunan ito. Sa akin, kailangang tumawag ng special session ang Pangulo para po matugunan ito. Mag-realign ng mga items na hindi kailangan,” he said.

Drilon made the call after Malacañang said that the government will not extend additional aid for low-income families despite the one-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.

Drilon believes that affected families should continuously be provided with assistance due to difficulties they may experience amid the ECQ period.

In a radio interview, the senator also called for the realignment of some items in the General Appropriation Act to boost the government’s fund for COVID-19 response.

Under Article VI, Section 15 of the Constitution, the President is allowed to call a special session at any time.

Congress is currently on session break until May 17.

House Speaker Velasco vows to expedite passage of proposed Bayanihan 3

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday vowed that the House of Representatives will fast track the passage of the proposed Bayanihan Law 3 to aid Filipinos struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic and to revive the country’s economy.

Velasco said the lower chamber will hasten the plenary approval of the measure once it resumes session on May 17.

“As soon as we get back on May 17, we will fast track the approval of Bayanihan 3,” Velasco said in a radio interview.

Velasco made the statement after three House committees approved, during the session break, the substitute bill to several Bayanihan 3 measures, including House Bill 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act,” which he and Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo had filed.

The substitute bill only needs the approval of the House Committee on Appropriations before it can be forwarded to the plenary for approval on second and third readings.

The House Committees on Economic Affairs, on Social Services, and on Ways and Means recently approved a P405.6-billion Bayanihan 3, which includes two rounds of cash aid amounting to P1,000 per Filipino.

The cash aid, totaling P216 billion, would be given to all 108 million Filipinos regardless of social status.

“Lahat po dapat mabigyan natin ng tulong ngayong pandemya. It has to be equitable. Hindi ‘yung isang household bibigyan ng certain amount e baka tatatlo lang sila sa bahay tapos ang isang household naman ay 15 ang myembro. Dapat po pantay-pantay,” he said.

Velasco said the House is constantly communicating with the Department of Finance (DOF) as to the funding sources for Bayanihan 3.

To raise funds for Bayanihan 3, the House speaker said that Congress is seeking to authorize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to make additional advances with or without interest to the national government to finance expenditures authorized by law to address and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from providing social amelioration, the Bayanihan 3 bill seeks to allocate funds for capacity-building for impacted sectors, wage subsidies, capacity-building for agricultural producers, internet allowances for students and teachers, COVID-19 treatment and vaccines, and rehabilitation of areas ravaged by recent floods and typhoons, Velasco said.

Speaker Velasco expects House committee to approve Bayanihan 3 before session resumes in May

Marje Pelayo   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Allan Velasco expressed confidence that the Lower House will be able to approve the Bayanihan 3 before it resumes session on May 17.

The House leader said the country’s economic managers are now studying potential funding sources for the measure which is seen as a “lifeline” for Filipinos whose livelihood have been affected by the pandemic.

Velasco confirmed that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado assured him that both the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management are now in the process of identifying sources of funds in order to move forward Bayanihan 3

“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.

Velasco and Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, a noted economist, earlier filed their own version of Bayanihan 3 under House Bill 8628 or the “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act,” which proposes a P420-billion fund to stimulate the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The measure 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.

HB 8628 is pending with the House Committee on Economic Affairs, which created a technical working group to consolidate all Bayanihan 3-related measures.

To date, 224 members from the supermajority, minority and independent blocs in the House have signed either as principal authors or co-authors of Velasco’s Bayanihan 3 bill.

Bayanihan 3 talks OK but PH needs effective implementation of previous COVID-19 laws – Villanueva

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday said he is open to discussions on the proposed Bayanihan 3 Law but stressed that ensuring the effective implementation of previously passed measures to combat COVID-19 is also imperative.

Villanueva issued the statement following calls to have the proposed Bayanihan 3 Law be declared as an “urgent legislation” to curb the present surge of COVID-19 cases and to help alleviate the plight of workers and businesses affected by quarantine restrictions.

“I will support a discussion on Bayanihan 3. But having said that, let me be clear on where I stand on the mess engulfing us: Legislation is not the main solution, executive action is,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said.

Villanueva said the “main cures” to COVID-19 and its effect on lives and livelihood of Filipinos “are not waiting to be legislated, but to be implemented.”

“Case in point is the new COVID-19 Vaccination Law, a great law in need of good implementation,” he added.

The senator also noted that the virus seems to be spreading faster than the release of government aid.

The appropriations authorized under Bayanihan 2 was P165.6 billion and while this has all been released to agencies, Villanueva said that the amount obligated by agencies stood at a low P77.5 billion according to DBM’s February report to the Senate.

“At doon sa P77.5 billion, wala pang kalahati, o P38 billion, ang na-disburse ng mga agencies. Bakit may underspending?” Villanueva asked.

“Underspending is fatal. Budgetary savings will not save lives. Gastusin na po ang dapat gastusin para sa mga tamang bagay,” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session of Congress for the immediate passage of the proposed Bayanihan 3.

Congress is on session break until May 17.

“Sakali pong magpatawag ng special session, handa po tayong sumuporta dito alang-alang sa ating mga manggagawa na walang trabaho at sweldo, sa mga pamilyang walang makain, sa mga taong walang-wala,” Villanueva said.

“Hinihikayat po natin ang gobyerno na maging listo at alerto sa pagpapatupad ng mga programang may pondo na sa 2021 National Budget,” he added.

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