₱550 B earmarked for ‘Bayanihan’

Published June 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government has so far allotted ₱550 billion for the implementation of the “Bayanihan” law mandating the government’s efficient response to address the coronavirus outbreak.

DOF Undersecretary Karl Chua (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua disclosed the huge fund allocation on the emergency response to the pandemic as the government prepares the “phased and adaptive recovery” plan for the country.

The government plan involves three stages, namely “emergency” from March to May, 2020; “recovery” from June to December, 2020; and “resiliency” starting 2021 onwards.

In the first stage where the country is like a patient intubated in the intensive care unit, Chua said the government has implemented Bayanihan I that involved support for healthcare capacity enhancement and assistance to sectors affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Iyung instrumento natin para tulungan ang mga naapektuhan ay iyong Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. At iyong laman nito ay iyong budget and procurement flexibility para maallocate po natin iyong scarce resources to provide subsidy to the poor and low income, to provide small business with grace period in the payment of taxes or loans or rental, at para magbigay rin ng wage subsidy. Nandito rin po iyong support natin to the key sectors in agriculture and OFWs at iyong tulong natin sa health care system (The instrument we used to help affected sectors is the the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act. It involves budget and procurement flexibility to allocate scare resources to provide subsidy to the poor and low income, to prove small business with grace period in the period in the payment of taxes, loans or rental, and give wage subsidy. We also provided support to the key sectors in agriculture and OFWs as well as the assistance to the health care system),” he said during a televised press briefing.

“Ang total amount na binigay po natin sa Bayanihan I ay aabot na sa ₱550 billion (The total amount we gave to Bayanihan I has reached ₱550 billion),” he added.

The Bayanihan law, signed last March, gave the President additional powers to boost the government’s capacity address the coronavirus crisis. The powers ranged from providing emergency subsidy to poor families to realigning funds in the national budget for coronavirus response.

Recovery stage

In the recovery stage where the country is in dextrose in a regular room, Chua said the government has proposed the passage of Bayanihan II, Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentive for Enterprises (CREATE) bill, the Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System bill, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill and Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill to help the growth of industries and reboot the economy.

He said the second stage involves budget and procurement flexibility, reprioritization of 2020 budget, resumption of priority ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects, better targeted and implemented Bayanihan I programs to raise income and create jobs. The government also intends to support industries by providing liquidity and equity infusion, and guarantee through the financial sector as well as targeted tax incentives.

Resiliency stage

Under the third and final stage of resiliency where the country recovers at home with the help of vitamins, Chua said the government aims to ensure a “healthy and resilient Philippines.”

He said they intend to push for the approval of a new national budget that will give priority to the advancement of healthcare, food production and value chain, Build, Build, Build program, and digital transformation.

The government will also pursue structural reforms to turn crisis into opportunity to prepare for the new normal as well as support Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program under the resiliency stage.

“Ang mungkahi po namin sa (Our goal in the) recovery program is to proceed with a more inclusive sustainable and more balanced growth in the Philippines,” Chua said.

“We are all not in the same boat, iba-iba po iyong pinanggalingan natin, iyong ating upbringing pero, (we differ from where we came from, as well as our upbringing but) we are in the same storm. Kaya ang suggestion po namin talaga (That’s why our suggestion is), now more than ever is for us to really care for each other and work together,” he said.

Sporadic lockdown in new normal

He said the new normal scenario will still entail observance of social distancing, strict hygiene and sanitation protocols. Sporadic lockdowns are still possible until a vaccine is found.

“Habang wala pang vaccine pabalik-balik po iyong effect ng virus. Hopefully, hindi po siya malala tulad noong nangyari sa early part ng ECQ (Until there is no vaccine, the effect of the virus will come back. Hopefully, it will not be as worse as what happened in the early part of the ECQ),” he said.

As of June 10, the country has recorded 23,732 with 1,027 deaths.

Except for Metro Manila and some places under modified general community quarantine, the country is under the more relaxed general community quarantine until June 15. A decision on whether to lift, extend, or upgrade the quarantine status will be made by President Duterte on Monday.