Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

The House of Representatives is committed to push for providing cash assistance to all Filipinos under the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan 3) with an allocation of P216 billion amid the imposition of the strictest quarantine classification in the National Capital Region (NCR).

During the virtual Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum on Thursday, House ways and means committee chair, Joey Salceda, said the House will pursue the critical lifeline measure, particularly the P216-billion funding for two rounds of cash aid worth P2,000, which will be given to each of the 108 million Filipinos regardless of economic status.

“The Philippines should be able to realize that in a crisis such as this, at least we have a policy instrument called Universal Basic Income, which is to give every Filipino citizen an aid from the government because everybody was hurt [by the pandemic] anyway,” he said.

Salceda said the emergence of the Covid-19 Delta variant and the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in NCR and nearby provinces have made it imperative for Congress to push for the cash aid.

“There will be more Delta cases. The question is whether we will allow ourselves to go the catastrophic direction of our neighbors, or we will fund the necessary responses. Bayanihan 3 is the correct answer to that question,” Salceda said.

Meanwhile, he noted that the government will need up to P29.7 billion to fund a round of the social amelioration program (SAP) or ayuda if the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon are declared to be under ECQ together with the NCR if President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of giving P1,000 per person is followed.

“The Palace gave the reassurance that there will be no ECQ without ayuda. President Duterte already said his administration will give P1,000 per head. For NCR and Calabarzon combined, that’s P29.7 billion,” Salceda said. “If we follow the scheme proposed by the economic managers, which is targeted towards 80 percent of households, we need P21.6 billion.”

He noted that there “may be enough cash” that can be tapped because the estimated intake is P27 billion from the option of increasing required dividends from government-owned and -controlled corporations from 50 percent to 75 percent.

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