SENATOR Emmanuel D. Pacquiao filed a bill Wednesday calling for a further P335 billion in stimulus spending to aid in the recovery from the economic downturn.

The legislation was assigned the number Senate Bill (SB) No. 2123, which will become the Expanded Stimulus Package Act of 2021 if passed.

SB 2123 represents the latest attempt by legislators to get the government to loosen its purse strings for stimulus spending a year before national elections. A pending bill in the House proposes a P420-billion package for a would-be third Bayanihan law.

Mr. Pacquiao’s bill proposes to spend P100 billion in aid to low-income individuals, P100 billion for wage subsidies to employers, and P100 billion in “capacity-building” programs for industries severely affected by the pandemic.

It also proposes to spend P30 billion in assistance to displaced workers, while allocating P3 billion for internet allowances of K-12 teachers and students in the public schools; and P2 billion for similar internet allowances at the tertiary level for institutions supervised by the Commission on Higher Education.

“Decisive action (is needed) at the soonest possible time,” according to the bill’s explanatory note.

“Now is the perfect time for the fiscal managers of our government to commence with the rehabilitation of our economy,” Mr. Pacquiao said in a statement, noting that the bill “fills (a) void in our current system as it addresses the gaps in our policies while maintaining transparency measures among our agencies.”

The previous stimulus law to deal with effects of the pandemic was the P165.5 billion Republic Act No. 11494 or Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as Bayanihan II. It was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in September.

In December, the President extended the validity of Bayanihan II funds until June 30, 2021.

Bayanihan I was Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. It realigned P275 billion from last year’s budget for pressing pandemic spending items, including the cash aid provided to around 18 million individuals. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas