Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo on Tuesday filed the proposed Bayanihan Act III to strengthen government efforts and response to the ongoing public health crisis, complicated by three successive typhoons that battered most parts of Luzon.
In House Bill 8031, or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, Quimbo proposed that some P400 billion be packaged to ensure help is available under the state’s social amelioration program, rehabilitate areas damaged by natural calamities, sustain delivery of basic goods and services, implement high-impact infrastructure projects, assist businesses to keep them afloat, and bring the economy on the right track.
Along with these, Quimbo said this will put to task the National Economic Development Authority to craft a long-term plan which shall be resilient from future shocks such as pandemics and typhoons.
It also mandates the agency to review the Flood Management Master Plan for Metro Manila and surrounding areas to improve disaster risk reduction and resilience.
But Malacañang on Tuesday said the planned Bayanihan 3 law is still “premature” while waiting for the passage of the proposed national budget for 2021.
“Let see first, like what (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez said, what will come out of the budget Congress is crafting. If it is still lacking, that is the time for a Bayanihan 3 to be passed,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
The P4.506 trillion 2021 national budget assumed that the economy will only contract at 5.5 percent this year, Quimbo said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto likewise raised the possibility of passing a counterpart measure to help calamity-stricken provinces.
“But for now, it’s still premature because we have yet to see what will happen with the proposed budget for 2021. If it is already in the 2021 budget, a Bayanihan 3 will no longer be needed. Let us see,” Roque said.
Congress earlier passed measures to aid the government in its COVID-19 response— the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or “Bayanihan 1” and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2.”
Quimbo said the projection of the country’s economic manager of a decline of 5.5 percent in the economy is “highly unlikely” considering the contraction of 11.5 percent in the third quarter and 16.9 percent in the second quarter, based on November 10 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
But for the country to fully rise from the COVID crisis, Bayanihan III ensures adequate funding for vaccine procurement and steady stream of “ayuda” to low-income families, she said.
Quimbo’s proposal also hopes to provide calamity intervention measures such as cash-for-work, emergency subsidies, adequate infrastructure funds for typhoon-stricken areas, among others.
The solon said she recognizes that assistance to businesses are crucial to job preservation, thus worker subsidies are provided in the bill which shall cover pay for testing and sick leaves, among others, capacity-building programs for critically impacted businesses to assist them in adapting to the new normal.
Apart from the enumerated interventions, the Bayanihan III seeks to extend the effectiveness of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II) as its provisions remain to be critical for recovery beyond December 2020.