The leadership of the House of Representatives on Friday expressed readiness to pass, in a special session, the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to continue giving special powers to President Rodrigo Duterte so he could continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“House leaders have engaged senators and Executive department officials in continuous discussions on the proposed provisions of Bayanihan II that would let the President best deal with the deepening global health and economic crisis spawned by the coronavirus pandemic,” Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte is the lead author of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act 11469 and the proposed Bayanihan II bill.
“We need to give continued special powers to the President to beat the pandemic, which, according to the WHO [World Health Organization], has reached a dangerous stage of accelerated spread as governments across the world start relaxing mobility restrictions and reopening their economies,” Villafuerte said.
The economic managers say Malacañang can only afford a P140-billion stimulus package, but Villafuerte says he hopes Palace officials will try to raise more money that will allow the Duterte administration to spend more on stimulating the economy after the four-month lockdown
He hopes Malacañang will increase the funding for the proposed stimulus package to an initial P200 billion to clear the way for a strong and quick economic recovery.
With revenue collections down in the year’s first five months as a result of the economic standstill, the economic managers said the government could only afford to set aside P140 billion for a new COVID response and stimulus package.
But Villafuerte, who is deputy speaker for finance, is optimistic the Executive department is capable of raising more funds for the proposed Bayanihan II.
This was in light of Thursday’s report that the collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs had started to pick up in June, with their combined take totaling P270.77 billion.
This amount is P211.5 billion or 28 percent higher than what both agencies had collected in the same month last year.