Bayanihan III bill worth P485B filed in Senate

A THIRD stimulus package worth P485 billion to help the economy recover from the pandemic and the late-year typhoons has been filed in the Senate.

The Bayanihan III stimulus package formally known as Senate Bill (SB) No. 1953 or the proposed Bayanihan to Rebuild as One Act, does not contain a grant of special powers to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, unlike the first and second rounds of stimulus.

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, or Republic Act No. 11469, and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, RA 11494, respectively authorized packages of P375 billion, and P140 billion with P25.5 billion in standby funding.

“Notwithstanding these measures which cushion the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, our agony is not yet over as three typhoons which hit the Philippines in October and November 2020 had exacerbated the disastrous impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019),” Senator Ralph G. Recto said in the bill’s explanatory note.

He said SB 1953 is the counterpart measure of House Bill No. 8031, written by Marikina Representative Stella Luz A. Quimbo.

The bill allocates P55 billion for COVID-19 vaccines and other medications and another P20 billion for vaccine storage. At present, a total of P82 billion in programmed and unprogrammed funds has been allotted for the vaccine rollout.

It will also provide an additional P35 billion to hire contact tracers, fund testing and treatment, and provide hazard pay.

Some P100 billion will be earmarked each for worker subsidies and capacity-building in hard-hit sectors; P70 billion in cash assistance to households under the social amelioration program, and P20 billion for households affected by the typhoons.

Some P30 billion will be provided for displaced workers, P50 billion for the rehabilitation of typhoon-hit areas, and a P5-billion internet allowance for teachers and students via the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education.

The government placed Luzon on lockdown in mid-March to contain the spread of the virus. Quarantine rules remain in force at varying levels of severity across the country.

The economy contracted 10% in the first nine months, which could worsen due to the impact of five typhoons in October and November. The National Economic and Development Authority has estimated that the storms caused P90 billion worth of output to be lost. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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