Is there a need for Bayanihan 3?

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    SEVERAL leaders of the House of Representatives have been so enamored with the idea of billions of pesos worth of stimulus packages that they filed a third such bill. The measure seeks to allocate a P247-billion budget to jump-start the country’s “rebuilding,” and the bill, House Bill 8059, if enacted, will be known as Bayanihan to Rebuild as One.

    Majority leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda are among the authors of House Bill 8059. They have to consolidate three similar measures to compose this wholistic bill.

    Salceda, chairman of the House Committee Ways and Means, pointed out that the P247-billion largesse will finance the emergency response and economic recovery programs of the nation. These interventions, he said, are made to ensure that national and local government units can mobilize “robust response and recovery programs” in the face of recent typhoons and lagging recovery in the third quarter.

    ‘We wonder how the economic managers of the Duterte administration will react to this proposal, since the House and the Senate combined are about to pass the P4.5-trillion national budget…’

    In defending the rationale of the measure, House leaders said the economy did not recover as quickly as expected in the past quarter, and that the recent spate of typhoons further exacerbated the economic doldrums we are experiencing at the moment. The need to pass a third Bayanihan law to provide the people with emergency aid has become imperative.

    The congressmen envision HB 8059 to contain provisions dealing on health, regulatory and economic interventions. Foremost of these is the P20-billion allocation for the procurement of vaccines and other health supplies and the creation of a vaccine committee to handle massive vaccination operations.

    Aside from these, Congressman Salceda also introduced particular interventions such as provision of rental housing relief, an eviction moratorium, condonation of agrarian reform loans, small business regulatory relief and credit mediation and refinancing assistance.

    The measure specifically includes P40 billion local government support for calamity response, P100 billion in health and resiliency related infrastructure program, P10 billion assistance for agriculture and fisheries, P10 billion loan facility for companies requiring help in paying 13th month benefits, P10 billion for Tulong para sa Displaced Workers, P10 billion for COVID-19 Assistance Measure Program, P10 billion for Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations, P10 billion for Medical Assistance for Indigents Program, P 5 billion each for Technical Education Skills Development Authority and Commission on Higher Education, and P10 billion for Department of Education.

    We wonder how the economic managers of the Duterte administration will react to this proposal, since the House and the Senate combined are about to pass the P4.5-trillion national budget and these socio-economic initiatives are already included in the General Appropriations Act.

    Are Salceda and company over-allocating money that the government will be hard-pressed to collect, considering the low level of economic activities still prevailing in our midst?