With 224 congressmen as co-authors, P420-B Bayanihan 3 bill assured of early approval

Published February 16, 2021, 6:39 PM

by Ben Rosario

Even before it could be approved  by  a third committee in the House of Representatives,  the bill proposing a P420 billion stimulus package under a third sequel of the Bayanihan Act has been assured of swift passage.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (HOR / MANILA BULLETIN)

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco principal proponent of House Bill 8628 or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan 3), disclosed that 224 House members have signed up to co-author the measure that was recently approved by the House Committees on Ways and Means and on Appropriations.

HB 8628 is currently pending before the Committee on Economic Affairs.

“I want to thank my colleagues for rising above party-lines and for always keeping Filipinos first as we unite to provide much-needed help to households and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Velasco said.

HB 8628 proposes a P420-billion stimulus package aimed at addressing the adverse effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to the country’s economy and public health.

The bill seeks to allocate P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households; P100 billion for capacity-building for impacted sectors; P52 billion for wage subsidies; P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers; P30 billion for internet allowances to teachers and students; P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers; P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines; and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas affected by recent floods and typhoons.

Under the measure, each household member will receive P1,000 regardless of their economic status. 

On top of this, a P1,000 allowance will be provided to each student and teacher, and P8,000 for every displaced worker.

Velasco said that Bayanihan 3 signifies the strong commitment of Congress to aid the Executive Department in its efforts to address the many problems the country is currently facing amid the pandemic.

“The 18th Congress, in its remaining legislative calendar, will carry out its duty to craft laws that will help our countrymen recover from this pandemic,” the House chief said. “

He added: “We deemed it necessary to address all fronts in stimulating our economy back to health, and the Bayanihan 3 provides a holistic approach in addressing all our current woes.”

Among the salient features of Bayanihan 3, or HB 8628, is the allocation of P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines. 

Under Section 4 of the bill, the requirement of Phase IV trials for COVID-19 medication and vaccine stipulated in the Universal Health Care Law is waived to expedite the procurement of said medication and vaccine, provided that these are recommended and approved by the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized health agencies. 

The bill also allows advance payment not exceeding 50 percent of the contract amount for the procurement of COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, unless otherwise directed by the President.

Aside from Velasco, 12 lawmakers signed as principal authors of HB 8628, namely: Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo; Senior Deputy Speaker Doy Leachon; Deputy Speakers Kristine Singson-Meehan, Bernadette Herrera, Weslie Gatchalian, Mikee Romero and Eric Martinez; Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit; Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain; Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona; Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez; and Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga.