MANILA – The country’s economic team is still looking for a potential source of funds to finance the proposed Bayanihan to Arise As One Act or the Bayanihan 3, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said on Wednesday.
In an interview with dzRH, Go said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had told him that they are still making a way to secure the funding for Bayanihan 3.
“Sa ngayon po ay binabalanse pa muna nila lahat. Ayaw nila mangako na makapagpatawag sila ng special session dahil, unang-una, dapat munang ma-identify kung may pondo tayong pagkukuhaan (They are still balancing everything. They do not want to make a promise of calling for a special session because first and foremost, they still need to assess if we still have funds),” Go said.
Go issued the statement following calls of several lawmakers on Duterte to call for a special session to allow Congress to immediately pass Bayanihan 3 which aims to provide a third round of economic stimulus package to help struggling Filipinos amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Go said Dominguez had cautioned that it would be difficult for the government to tap another budget items to fund the proposed Bayanihan 3.
“So, pinag-aaralan po nila kung may ma-identify sila at saka po sila magpapatawag ng special session (So, they are still studying if they could identify [budget items] and call for a special session),” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday urged Duterte to call for a special session of Congress for the swift passage of Bayanihan 3.
Also on Tuesday, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the House of Representatives is willing to hold a special session to immediately pass the proposed measure.
Go said he supports the measure, so long as the government has available funds.
Bayanihan 3 seeks the allocation of PHP108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households, PHP100 billion for capacity-building for affected sectors, PHP52 billion for wage subsidies, PHP30 billion for assistance to displaced workers, and PHP25 billion for Covid-19 treatment and vaccines.
The proposed measure also earmarks PHP70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers, PHP30 billion for Internet allowances to students and teachers, and PHP5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas impacted by recent floods and typhoons.
Under Bayanihan 3, each household member will also receive PHP1,000 regardless of their economic status. On top of this, a PHP1,000 allowance will be provided to each student and teacher and PHP8,000 for every displaced worker.
Expanded cash aid
Go said the expanded cash aid for residents in NCR Plus, which covers the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, is already a big help.
“Makakatulong naman po siguro ‘yun kahit na PHP1,000 o PHP4,000 (Cash aid worth between PHP1,000 and PHP4,000 is already enough to help [our fellow Filipinos in NCR Plus]),” he said.
He ensured that the government would do everything to help the Filipinos cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Malaking bagay na po ‘yun sa mga kababayan natin. Sabi ko nga, kung anong pwede nating itulong mula sa gobyerno, ito pong panahon na tulungan natin ang mga kababayan, huwag po natin silang pabayaan (It’s already a big help to our fellow countrymen. Whatever assistance the government can give, let us help them and not abandon them),” Go said.
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal have been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most restrictive quarantine status, until April 11 to stop the upward trend of Covid-19 cases in the country.
An emergency subsidy will be distributed to 11.2 million recipients from Metro Manila, 3 million from Bulacan, 3.4 million from Cavite, 2.7 million from Laguna, and 2.6 million from Rizal.
Each qualified resident may receive cash or in-kind assistance of PHP1,000 each or up to a maximum PHP4,000 for a family.
Visayas front-liners in NCR
Meantime, Go thanked medical front-liners in Visayas who have expressed willingness to be deployed in Metro Manila to help address the spike in Covid-19 infections in the country’s metropolis.
Go was elated that 100 healthcare workers from Visayas would be sent to Metro Manila, the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Nag-boluntaryo sila from the Visayas, from Cebu, na pumunta na po ngayong araw na ito sa Maynila para tumulong po sa atin. Salamat sa mga Bisaya ([Medical front-liners] from Visayas, particularly in Cebu, have volunteered to go to Manila today to send help. Thanks to Visayan people),” he said. (PNA)