Senate vows passage of economic recovery bills

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    SENATE President Vicente Sotto III yesterday assured Malacañang that the Senate will craft measures geared towards economic recovery in response to President Duterte’s pronouncement that the country’s economy is “sinking deeper and deeper” due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The Senate will diligently pass legislation vital to our economic recovery as we are doing now. We can only hope that the world will be able to arrest the pandemic at the soonest possible time,” Sotto said.

    Duterte on Monday night said the country is losing P2 billion daily due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, money that otherwise would go to workers under normal conditions.

    Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon urged the country’s economic managers to lay down comprehensive and realistic plans to address the ailing economy, warning that failure to do so would lead to more serious consequences like increase in crimes, extreme poverty, hunger, and further joblessness.

    “The question now is: what do our economic managers plan to do? The people would want to see a clear plan to address our worsening economic situation. I call for a unified approach to address the worsening economic condition of the country,” Drilon said, adding that “the primary concern should be to protect the poorest and the most vulnerable sectors of the economy.

    “We must throw a lifeline to the poor who are having difficulties coping with the effects of the pandemic and inflation. Unfortunately, the 2021 national budget provides too little for the poor,” Drilon said.

    Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the ailing economy is made even worse by the difficult choice between addressing health-related problems and the sinking economy.

    Lacson said a classic example is the recommendation made by the National Economic and Development Authority to the President to allow children 10 years old and above to be allowed to go out of their homes with their parents, as studies show 50 percent of the economy is driven by family activities outside their homes.

    He said government must come up with sound economic policies amid the pandemic to help revive the economy.

    “Policy decisions play a vital role in striking a balance between long-term implications on the economy and the immediate effects on our people’s health concerns. The right decisions will chart our path towards a sustainable ‘new normal,’ pull us out from pits of social and economic distress, and shape a safer and more resilient society,” he added.

    Drilon said the government must improve its pandemic response, citing the findings of Australia-based think tank Lowy Institute that ranked the Philippines 79th out of 98 countries in terms of ability to fight the pandemic.

    Drilon also urged the government to be more aggressive in addressing red tape and corruption in the country, citing a decline in the latest Corruption Perception Index wherein the Philippines slipped down to 115th place while retaining its poor score of 34, with 100 points being the best.