House to push for Bayanihan 3 cash aid amid ECQ

MANILA – 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 PHP216 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 PHP216-billion funding for two rounds of cash aid worth PHP2,000, 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.

ECQ in other provinces

Meanwhile, he noted that the government will need up to PHP29.7 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 PHP1,000 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 PHP1,000 per head. For NCR and Calabarzon combined, that’s PHP29.7 billion,” Salceda said. “If we follow the scheme proposed by the economic managers, which is targeted towards 80 percent of households, we need PHP21.6 billion.”

The tax chair noted that there “may be enough cash” that can be tapped because the estimated intake is PHP27 billion from the option of increasing required dividends from government-owned and -controlled corporations from 50 percent to 75 percent.

“That is not to say we should just go with it and declare an ECQ. I would be very circumspect about declaring an ECQ, particularly since new jobs are still very vulnerable and prices are still unstable due to food and transport,” Salceda said.

Qualified beneficiaries in areas under ECQ will be receiving PHP1,000 per person or a maximum of PHP4,000 per family under the government’s subsidy program.

The funding sources for areas placed under ECQ like Metro Manila have been identified through Duterte’s Administrative Order (AO) 41 inked on May 4. (PNA)

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