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House claims support from 224 legislators in show of force for 3rd stimulus

THE leadership of the House of Representatives is claiming support from 224 legislators for the proposed P420-billion stimulus package which will become the third Bayanihan law if passed.

In a statement Tuesday, Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco said representatives from across the political spectrum expressed their support for House Bill No. 8628 which if approved will go into the books as the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan III).

The third Bayanihan package would be the largest by far and at the bill stage will be subject to reduction as the government weighs its ability to fund the measure.

The proposed Bayanihan III bill has 12 principal authors and 212 co-authors and allocates P108 billion for social amelioration program assistance to families affected by the pandemic; P100 billion for capacity-building of businesses in critically-impacted industries; P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural workers; P52 billion for wage subsidies; P30 billion for displaced workers; P30 billion for the internet expenses of teachers and students; P25 billion for COVID-19 vaccines and medicine; and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas. 

“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 Speaker said. “We deemed it necessary to address all fronts in stimulating our economy back to health, and Bayanihan III provides a holistic approach in addressing all our current woes,” he said.

Mr. Velasco said Bayanihan III will provide P8,000 to each worker displaced by the pandemic.

He added that each household member will receive P1,000 regardless of economic status. Each student and teacher will receive an additional P1,000 allowance.

The proposed law will also establish a “Bayanihan Council,” which will be responsible for the efficient implementation of the Bayanihan III programs.

Expenditure and implementation issues marred the first two Bayanihan packages, which Mr. Velasco promised to avoid. The first package, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, was signed in March 2020 and authorized the realignment of P275 billion for emergency spending items like cash aid for households unable to work during the quarantine. The second law, the Bayanihan to Recover as One, was signed in September and authorized up to P165 billion, including P25 billion contingent on the availability of funds, to help gradually reopen the economy. — Gillian M. Cortez

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