Villafuerte backs calls for special session for COVID-19 supplemental budget

Published April 16, 2021, 3:41 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Camarines Sur Representative Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte on Friday, April 16, said he would support calls for a special session to pass a supplemental budget for citizens hard hit by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

This as Villafuerte reiterated has appeal for the passage of the so-called “Ayuda (aid) Bill”.

He said the fresh efforts by President Duterte’s economic managers to scour for funds for a possible supplemental budget in the event of future cash subsidies should prompt the Congress to prioritize the measure.

Congress resumes session on May 17 after its Lenten break.

The bill proposes a P10,000 emergency assistance to low-income families, which Villafuerte said would be a “lifeline to families hardest hit by COVID-19”.

“The Congress should give priority to the passage of  the Ayuda bill or the proposed Bangon Pamilyang Pilipino (BPP) program when it resumes session as this would translate into a bigger and broader package to help poor and low-income families survive the pandemic-driven global recession,” he appealed anew. 

Economic managers are still to looking for potential sources of funds for another COVID-19 cash aid program, saying the fiscal deficit should not breach 8.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to keep the country’s fiscal position stable and enable it to deal with the prolonged effects of the pandemic.

Members of the House of Representatives are pushing the passage of a Bayanihan 3, seeking a P420-billion additional stimulus for the sectors affected by the pandemic. 

Villafuerte said providing much-needed financial aid to Filipinos is crucial at this time, amid official projections that the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjacent provinces would result to  252,000 job losses, P30 billion in foregone income, and drive 102,000 more Filipinos into poverty.

“Without any means to survive, highly vulnerable families affected by the ECQ may be spared from COVID-19 because of the strict mobility restrictions to contain the quick spread of the deadly virus, but they may die from hunger,” the lawmaker said. 

Villafuerte said Malacañang’s release of P22.9 billion in financial assistance to low-income families to provide  P1,000 worth of aid to affected individuals in ECQ areas would not be enough, raising that more quarantine measures may have to be imposed later if the COVID-19 surge continues, especially with the delay in vaccine deliveries resulting from the global supply hitches.

Malacañang earlier said that President Duterte has no plans yet to certify the Bayanihan 3 as an urgent measure, heeding his economic team’s call for sources of funds.