House set to approve legislative package to cushion COVID-19 impact

Published May 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives has set its sights at passing before next week’s adjournment three legislative proposals that the Defeat Covid 19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC) said would cushion the adverse economic, financial and social impacts of the Covid 19 epidemic on Filipinos.

House of the Representatives (Facebook)
House of the Representatives (Facebook)

After launching the plenary debates for the proposed P1.313 trillion Philipine Economic Stimulus Act and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act on Tuesday, congressmen are set to start plenary deliberations on the COVID-19 Related Anti-Discrimination Act today (Wednesday).

The three measures were strongly endorsed for immediate passage by the DCC during an online meeting last Tuesday.

Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, DCC co-chairman, said the special legislative panel is confident that the PESA bill that consolidated three legislative proposals filed separately by its authors, will hasten the economic recovery efforts of government.

“PESA will ensure the availability of jobs and continuity of business for millions of Filipinos,” Romualdez said.

Rep. Sharon Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS OWA), co-chairperson of the DCC Subcommittee on Economic Stimulus and Response Package Cluster, said the whole proposal – Transitional, Financial, Sectoral, and Structural – is the immediate response to jumpstart the economy amid the pandemic.

Garin, along with Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City) said under House Bill 6815 or the PESA Bill, the proposed economic stimulus budget for year 2020 is P568 Billion and the amount of P650 Billion plus P80 Billion are for the succeeding year, 2021, which will be the start of the Enhanced Build-Build-Build Program.

Approval of the measure is expected within the week in view of the fact that 268 House members signed in as co-authors of the measure.

The DCC also called for the passage of House Bill 6622 or FIST Bill, that won strong endorsement from members of the Committee on Banks and Financial intermediaries chaired by Quirino Rep. Junie Cua.

Authors of HB 6622 explained that as a result of the pandemic and the disruption of economic activities, most financial institutions are facing a period of delayed loan collections, and are at risk of recording higher non-performing assets (NPAs) across all borrower segments. As defined in said bill, NPAs consist of the non-performing loans and real and other properties acquired (ROPAs) by financial institutions (FIs).

HB 6622 proposes the creation of Foreign Institutions Strategic Transfer Corporations (FISTCs) which may perform the following: 1) invest in, or acquire NPAs of FIs; 2) engage third parties to manage, collect, operate and dispose of NPAs acquired from FIs; 3) in case of non-performing loans, to restructure debt, condone debt, and undertake other restructuring related activities; and 4) renovate, improve, complete or alter their NPAs acquired from FIs, among others.

HB 6676 or the proposed “COVID-19 Related Anti-Discrimination Act”, authored by Rep. Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), provides the imposition of penalties of imprisonment and fine against any form of discrimination persons who tested positive for Covid 19 or are categorized as persons under suspicion or under investigation.

Acts of discrimination against, repatriated overseas Filipino workers, health workers, responders and service workers on suspicion of being infected with the dreaded 2019 coronavirus will also be charged and penalized.

Masbate Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr., chairman fo the House Committee on Public Order and Safety disclosed that the Philippine National Police already registered more than 100 attacks and acts of discrimination against health workers since the start of the ECQ.

The offense carries penalties that considered to be heavier than ordinary discrimination offenses. Violators face imprisonment of one year to 10 years, or a fine of P200,000 to P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.