THE SURGE in the coronavirus case count has strengthened the argument for a third stimulus package, which as currently packaged is worth about P420 billion, Marikina City 2nd District Representative Stella Luz A. Quimbo said.
In a mobile phone message to BusinessWorld Sunday, Ms. Quimbo said the direct aid to millions of families contemplated in House Bill (HB) 8628, otherwise known as the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, will allow beneficiaries to better comply with stricter health protocols imposed to contain coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Ideally, we should pass a Bayanihan III law sooner rather than later. With aid forthcoming, we can expect a greater willingness to comply with stricter quarantine requirements, which we may need in the face of a surge of new COVID-19 cases and the emergence of a Philippine variant,” she said.
The first two stimulus packages, known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. The packages, also known as Bayanihan I and Bayanihan II, were passed in March and September respectively.
The daily COVID-19 case count rose to 5,000 on Saturday, approaching the peak in daily cases recorded in August. The recent surge was accompanied by news of the identification of a distinct Philippine COVID variant.
Ms. Quimbo, along with Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, filed HB 8628 last month.
The Bayanihan to Arise as One bill provides for P108 billion in social amelioration program assistance to families affected by the pandemic; P100 billion for capacity-building programs for establishments in critically impacted industries; P70 billion for capacity building for agriculture workers; P52 billion for wage subsidies; P30 billion for displaced workers; P30 billion for internet expenses of teachers and students; P25 billion for COVID-19 vaccines and medicine; and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas.
House leaders claim broad support for a third stimulus, but economic managers have been lukewarm, preferring to allow funds from the first two Bayanihans and the 2021 budget to work their way into the economy.
Ms. Quimbo and Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, have said that the first two economic stimulus packages and the 2021 budget are insufficient to deal with the effects of the pandemic. — Gillian M. Cortez