Quimbo pushes Bayanihan 3 to fight Covid, boost PHL’s disaster resilience

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The co-chairman of the House Economic Cluster on Tuesday filed a bill providing for a P400-billion Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, while mandating the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) to craft a plan to improve the country’s long-term economic and disaster resilience.

In House Bill 8031, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said she filed the Bayanihan 3 Act to give additional funding and strengthen government efforts and response to the ongoing public health crisis complicated by three successive typhoons that battered most parts of Luzon.

According to Quimbo, the P400 billion in spending package seeks to ensure help is available under the state’s social amelioration program, rehabilitate areas damaged by natural calamities, sustain delivery of basic goods and services, implement high-impact infrastructure projects, assist businesses to keep them afloat, and bring the economy on the right track.

The bill proposes to allocate P100 billion to subsidize business’ payments of wages, or other worker-related expenses, P100 billion for capacity building to impacted sectors, P90 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households (of which P20 billion is targeted to households in typhoon-devastated areas), P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers (including cash-for-clean up and cash-for-home building in typhoon-devastated areas), P50 billion for the rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas, P25 billion for Covid-19 treatment and vaccines, and P5 billion for the provision of Internet allowances to teachers and students.

Quimbo said the proposal will also put to task the Neda to craft a long-term plan, which shall be resilient from future shocks such as pandemics and typhoons. It also mandates the agency to review the Flood Management Master Plan for Metro Manila and surrounding areas to improve disaster risk reduction and resilience.

She said the money allotted to fight Covid-19 under the 2021 spending plan is minuscule, representing only P248 billion out of the total P838.4 billion earmarked for the pandemic response that also included some P590 billion for infrastructure under the government’s centerpiece program, the Build, Build, Build program.

But for the country to fully rise from the Covid crisis, Quimbo said the Bayanihan 3 ensures adequate funding for vaccine procurement and steady stream of  aid, or ayuda to low-income families.

Quimbo’s proposal also aims to provide calamity intervention measures such as cash-for-work, emergency subsidies, adequate infrastructure funds for typhoon-stricken areas, among others.

The lawmaker also recognizes that assistance to businesses are crucial to job preservation, thus worker subsidies are provided in the bill, which shall cover pay for testing and sick leaves, among others, capacity-building programs for critically impacted businesses to assist them in adapting to the new normal.

The proposed Bayanihan 3 seeks to extend the effectivity of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II) as its provisions remain to be critical for recovery beyond December 2020.

“Government must also anticipate the need for additional response measures, given that Bayanihan II shall cease to be in force and effect by December 19 of the current year while the effects of the pandemic, and the virus itself, are expected to prevail well into 2021,” she added.

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