House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said Tuesday the approval on second reading of the proposed P1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy Act will help President Rodrigo Duterte to restart the economy.
Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, said ARISE, or the economic stimulus for workers, would protect close to 16 million workers, create three- million short-term jobs and other measures to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over three years.
Romualdez made his statement even as Rep. Rufus Rodriquez said he wanted the House and the Senate to extend their first regular session until next week so they could pass pending COVIDE-19 response bills.
He filed House Concurrent Resolution 8 to amend the legislative calendar so that Congress would continue to meet up to next Friday, instead of adjourning this coming Friday.
Congress is set to end its first regular session for the 18th Congress on June 5.
Rodriguez said there were “important measures the country needs during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that have to be passed by Congress.”
Romualdez made his statement after the House on Monday night approved on second reading the proposed ARISE measure under House Bill 6815, which proposes P688 billion in spending this year.
The House is expected to have passed the bill on third and final reading when Congress adjourns its session this week.
“The approval of the economic stimulus package [ARISE] will ensure the availability of jobs and the continuity of business for millions of Filipinos. It is a stimulus program that seeks to restore our economic growth, maintain employment levels and expand the country's productive capacity,” said Romualdez on the measure that also aims to create 1.5-million jobs through infrastructure projects and protect 5.57 million micro, small and medium enterprises by rescuing theirtroubled companies.
This developed as Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte pushed for the enactment of House Bill 1297, or the proposed “Bangko sa Baryo Act” that he said would support President Duterte’s policy on financial inclusion as it would authorize “cash agents” to help serve the banking needs of people living in faraway places without banks. The bill was passed last week by the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries led by Quirino Rep. Junie Cua.
Villafuerte, one of the bill's principal authors, said the measure would empower the chosen “authorized cash agents” or ACAs to help in performing a broad range of bank services—including forwarding account opening applications, cash-in and cash-out services and initial customer identity verification.
The “Bangko sa Baryo Act” is one of the trio of measures that Villafuerte has been pushing under the “new normal” scenario to avoid a repetition of the initial delay in the release by the Department of
Social Welfare and Development of P200-billion worth of cash aid to 18 million underprivileged families under the SAP, which is billed as the biggest social protection initiative ever in the country’s history.
Villafuerte’s proposal under a must-do list also includes the speedy and full implementation of the Philippine Identification System ID project of the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Broadband Program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
The fast implementation of the NBP and the National ID project are among the features of HB 6623, or the “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020,” which was already approved by the House Defeat Covid-19 Ad Hoc Committee led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and co-led by Romualdez.
Romualdez said ARISE would also protect the people from COVID-19 through the P20-billion allocation for the mass=testing program of the Department of Health, or P10 billion each this year and next year to boost consumer and business confidence.
“We have to jumpstart our economic activities while keeping our people healthy at the soonest time possible to ensure our survival as a nation,” said Romualdez on the measure being eyed for third and final reading approval before Congress adjourns this week.
“As we create more jobs and try to jumpstart our economy, we also need to work double time to ensure that health standards and protocols are geared toward protecting the vulnerable sectors of our society,” Romualdez said.
On Tuesday of last week, the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee co-led by Romualdez and Cayetano approved the report of the Economic Stimulus Response Package Subcommittee co-led by Reps. Joey Sarte Salceda, Stella Quimbo and Sharon Garin on the economic stimulus program, formerly the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act.
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