A legislator on Friday expressed confidence that Congress under the leadership of incoming Speaker Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez will be able to provide the new administration the needed budgetary support to continue providing aid for sectors affected by the pandemic.
Outgoing Assistant Majority Leader and Rep. Alfred Vargas of Quezon City acknowledged the poor and other vulnerable sectors of society should continue to receive expanded social protection and other forms of government assistance.
“The oppressive economic effects of the pandemic continue to be felt by the poor and other vulnerable sectors. Aid in the form of financial and food assistance remains to be the most immediate lifeline that government can extend to them,” Vargas, chair of the House social services committee, said in a statement.
He said Congress must extend to the incoming administration the widest range of budgetary tools to address the continuing effects of the pandemic on affected sectors and bring the economy back on its feet.
Similarly, Vargas said that government should explore aid mechanisms for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), tourism establishments, and small private schools in the form of employee wage grants, interest-free loans, or other forms of assistance to help them recover.
“Our economic recovery rests on the recovery of businesses and enterprises whose operations will help provide jobs and stimulate economic activity,” he said.
“Before the pandemic, our tourism and education sectors and our MSMEs have underpinned our country’s economic growth and job generation program. Needless to state, these sectors and enterprises must be given priority in any economic recovery initiative,” he added.
Vargas earlier filed a resolution urging his fellow House members and incoming members of Congress to support the “Bayan Bangon Muli” economic stimulus and mutual aid package being proposed by Romualdez.
Such support, he said in his resolution, is an expression of “genuine unity in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to [his] advocacy for whole-of-nation, whole-of-government, and even whole-of-society approaches to rebuilding the country’s economy and the lives of all our fellow Filipinos.”
The Vargas resolution said the new president will begin his term “at a time when the country is gradually recovering from the social and economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Quezon City solon said Congress has worked hand in hand with the Duterte administration to address the pandemic and its economic and social impact through Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” and Republic Act No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.”
“These programs, projects, and activities that continue to assist and uplift our countrymen require further support as the pandemic is not over and tens of millions still are reeling from its impact,” he said.
Reports of sub-variants only show that COVID-19 continues to pose a threat no public health and the country’s economic recovery, he added.
“We welcome a new administration with an overwhelming mandate from the Filipino people. Every one of us, especially public servants and statesmen, must heed the call for unity in order to serve our countrymen faithfully. This entails extending them the help that they need, as tens of millions still require public aid to uplift them from the struggles that COVID-19 continues to bring,” Vargas said.