Bayanihan 3 bill close to hurdling House of Representatives

Published May 26, 2021, 9:05 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 25, approved on second reading the “Bayanihan to Arise as One” or Bayanihan 3 bill, a revised version that trimmed the proposed allocation for COVID-19 stimulus to P401 billion.

House of Representatives (MANILA BULLETIN File photo/Alvin Kasiban)

Lawmakers were initially proposing a P405.6-billion appropriation for the third installment of the Bayanihan law, but a substitute bill adopted during the plenary session amended the amount to P401 billion.

After an hour of debates on proposed individual amendments, members of the lower chamber passed the House Bill No. 9411 on second reading via voice voting.

Under legislative rules, bills will be passed on third and final reading three session days after their second reading approval.

The bill has not been certified as urgent by President Duterte, and has yet to secure the constitutional requirement of certification from the national treasury that funds are available for its implementation.

The approved Bayanihan 3 bill of the House proposes the release of appropriations in three phases: P165.9 billion for the first phase, P186 billion for the second phase, and P48.6 billion in the third phase.

Under the proposal, a total of P216 billion was allocated as “ayuda” or emergency cash assistance, wherein P2,000 will be provided to each Filipino in two tranches.

The measure also seeks the distribution of a one-time P5,000 to P10,000 cash subsidy for households in areas placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and strict levels of quarantine restrictions. P30 billion was set aside for this proposed cash grant.

Some P20 billion, meanwhile, will be given as wage subsidies, to be implemented by the Department of Finance, the Social Security System and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Displaced workers would also be receiving anew assistance worth P25 billion thru the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) programs.

Local government units would get P3 bllion as support fund.

A national nutrition fund of P6 billlion was also set aside by congressmen, while P9 billion was allocated for medical assistance to indigents.

Some P30 billion, meanwhile, will go to the agri-fishery sector in various forms of assistance.

Cooperatives will also get aid worth P2 billion, as well as the higher education sector with a P500 million allocation.

Another P500 million was proposed for the COVID-19 testing of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers.

The Lower Chamber also retained the P54.6-billion pension and gratuity fund for uniformed personnel, which proponents earlier explained was aimed at restoring the budget that was slashed under the 2020 General Appropriations Act.

Congressmen are expected to give their final approval on the Bayanihan 3 next week. The 18th Congress is set to adjourn sine die on June 4.