By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th district Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto is counting on the House leadership to include in its priority list the passage of the proposed P30-billion supplemental budget for Taal evacuees.
The House leader cited the need for the Lower Chamber to pursue the approval of the supplemental budget to ensure the rehabilitation and the recovery of the areas affected by Taal Volcano eruption.
“It’s so unfortunate that Batangas was hit by calamities one from the other. When Taal erupted last January, efforts were made to assist and help the people of Batangas. Nasa stage pa lang kami ng recovery ng Taal eruption(We are still in the stage of recovery of the Taal eruption) yet this COVID 19 pandemic came in,” Santos-Recto told the Manila Bulletin in a text message.
“With regard to the Taal recovery plan, I’m confident that the House leadership will still continue to support this initiative and will always consider this as one of their priorities,” she said.
Santos-Recto is one of the principal authors of House Bill (HB) No. 5998, which calls for the P30 billion supplemental budget for Taal Volcano victims.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez earlier said the House of Representatives is willing to provide as much as P50 billion supplemental budget for the affected areas by the Taal Volcano eruption last January 12.
“The House is committed to show ‘malasakit’ and provide families displaced by the explosion of Taal Volcano long-term and permanent solutions to their woes,” he said in an earlier statement.
During his visit to evacuees in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on January 20, 2020, President Duterte asked Congress to pass a supplemental budget worth P30 billion to assist the affected areas.
He said funds should be appropriated for the construction of massive evacuation centers in disaster-prone areas.
During the unprecedented and historic session held at the Batangas City Convention Center, the House of Representatives adopted twin resolutions seeking to support President Duterte’s call to provide immediate aid and rehabilitation program to Taal Volcano eruption evacuees
House Resolution (HR) No. 662 expressed the Lower Chamber’s strong support to the proposed P30 billion supplemental budget for Taal evacuees.
It was principally authored by Speaker Alan Peter Cayteno, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, House
Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. and lawmakers from Batangas.
While, House Resolution No. 655 sought the immediate release of funds for the aid relief, resettlement, rehabilitation,
livelihood, development and social programs and services to communities adversely affected by the Taal Volcano Eruption.
It was filed by Deputy Speakers Raneo “Ranie” Abu of Batangas, and Santos Recto and Batangas Reps. Mario Vittorio Mariño, Elenita Milagros “Eileen” Ermita-Buhain, Ma. Theresa Collantes, and Lianda Bolilia.
Santos-Recto said given the extent of economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the passage of Economic Stimulus Bill is needed to generate jobs and reset the economy.
“Certainly, in this time, we need to stand up again and find ways to at least mitigate the effects of this pandemic. We need to create more jobs and provide financial assistance to all sectors affected. Grabe ang nangyayari. That’s why I fully support the
Economic Stimulus Bill now pending in the House of Representatives,” she said.
House Ways and Means Chair and House Economic Stimulus Cluster Co-Chair Joey Sarte Salceda said on Sunday the proposed P568-billion Philippine Economic Stimulus Act will be presented to the plenary today, May 18.
He said seeking to address the P1.2 trillion economic loss brought about by the months-long lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, the House of Representatives is pushing for such economic stimulus package to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic on the country’s economic landscape.
Salceda, an economist, noted that because of the prolonged enhanced community quarantine, the total economic loss now stood at P1.2 trillion.
“For the second quarter, P892 billion ang foregone GDP (Gross Domestic Product). For the first quarter, mga nasa P320 billion po. Masasabi natin po na umabot sa P1.2 trillion,” he said.
(For the second quarter, P892 billion is the foregone GDP. For the first quarter, it reached P320 billion.We can say, the total GDP loss reached to P1.2 trillion.)
Salceda said under their proposed economic stimulus package, the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, which employ around 4.1 million formal economy workers, will be given assistance.
He said two kind of assistance will be given to the MSMEs–P50 billion loans under Small Business Corp. and P10 billion assistance under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, 99.52 percent or 998,342 of the 1,003,111 business enterprises operating across the country are MSMEs.
Salceda said the P568-billion Economic Stimulus Package also includes P110 billion wage subsidies under Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE), and the P30 billion Cash For Work under DOLE-Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).
He said those who lost their jobs during this time can be tapped and trained as contact tracers to boost the government’s contract tracing capacity.
The Lower Chamber’s proposed fiscal package also includes P130 billion for interest-free loans with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and P10 billion for loan guarantees, Salceda cited.
Under House economic package assistance, various sectors will be assisted: Tourism (P58 billion), Transportation (P75 billion), Industry and Service Sectors (P44 billion); and Agri-Fishery (P66 billion), he said.
The P25-billion capitalization for National Development Corp. is also included in the stimulus package.
Salceda said to recover the estimated P1.2 trillion economic loss, there should be enhanced implementation of the govenrment’s Build, Build, Build (BBB) program, which seeks to create 1.5 billion jobs.
He noted that under House’s fiscal package, an enhanced BBB program worth P650 billion is being pushed in three years starting 2021.