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House passes Bayanihan 3 on second reading

/ 09:04 PM May 25, 2021
House passes Bayanihan 3 on second reading

Batasang Pambansa. (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading the proposed third Bayanihan measure that aims to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the lives of Filipinos.

Via voice voting, the lower chamber passed the Bayanihan 3 law, formally known as the Bayanihan To Arise As One Act, which provides funds amounting to P401 billion. The approved version on the plenary floor provided for a slightly lower amount than the initial P405.6 billion Bayanihan 3 proposal.

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A huge bulk of the funds, amounting to P216 billion, is intended for the provision of P2,000 cash aid per Filipino, regardless of social status. This cash assistance will be given in two installments of P1,000 each.

It also intends to help pandemic-affected households in areas declared under enhanced community quarantine through a one-time cash subsidy ranging from P5,000 to P10,000, which will be dispensed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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Further, P20 billion is also allotted for wage subsidies that will be implemented in three phases — P8 billion for the first phase, another P8 billion for the second phase, and P4 billion for the third phase.

Other assistance included in the measure are as follows:

  • assistance to displaced/disadvantaged workers – P25 billion
  • national nutrition – P6 billion
  • assistance to the agri-fishery sector – P30 billion
  • assistance to cooperatives – P2 billion
  • medical assistance to indigents program of the Department of Health – P9 billion
  • local government support fund – P3 billion
  • RT-PCR for seafarers and OFWs – P500 million
  • pension and gratuity fund – P54.6 billion
  • support to basic education – P4 billion
  • support for higher education – P500 million

The House Committee on Appropriations earlier approved the measure despite the absence of a certification of availability of funds from the Bureau of the Treasury, which is a requirement for special appropriations bills under the Constitution.

However, the chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said in a letter to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco that it was his “studied opinion … that the Bayanihan 3 already complies with the constitutional condition for special appropriations bills and can thus be approved by the House.”

Salceda pointed out that the measure met the constitutional requirement for funding sources, such as unprogrammed funds and savings under the 2021 national budget, pooled savings from the Bayanihan 1 and 2 laws, excess or new revenue collections, provisional advances of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, increased dividend remittances from government-owned corporations and capital withdrawal from public firms.

The proposed Bayanihan 3 is among the lower chamber’s top priorities before it adjourns sine die on June 5.

KGA / ATM

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TAGS: Bayanihan 3, Cash aid, COVID-19, House of Representatives, Legislation
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