Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is pushing for the passage of a Bayanihan 3 law to further provide the country the resources for its COVID-19 response and recovery.

Senate Ralph Recto
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Recto filed Senate Bill No. 1943 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Rebuild as One” Act which seeks to provide a P485-billion budget as “as a continuing response” to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the recent typhoons and accelerate the country’s economy recovery.

A similar measure has also been filed in the House of Representatives by Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo.

Recto said the proposed Bayanihan 3 would essentially augment the Philippines’ war chest against COVID-19, which the Asian Development Bank found “substantially smaller” compared to the response packages of other countries in the region.

“You need additional stimulus to spend for the economy. More so now that you have a light at the end of the tunnel — so to speak — you have the vaccine. You’re going to make advance payments for that. At the same time, you want to help families cope with the situation. So many people have lost their jobs,” he told ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday.

“Then the three typhoons last year. We were hit in the gut, because that’s our rice granary, that’s where our vegetables are coming from. And so on and so forth. So you will need to make these investments,” said the former socioeconomic planning secretary.

In the explanatory note of the bill filed last Monday, December 14, Recto also said: “It has been more than 270 days since the community quarantine started on March 15, 2020. While vaccine shots are hopefully available next year to inoculate millions of Filipinos, Bayanihan 3 should nevertheless be enacted in order to help the economy further recover both from the twin challenges of the pandemic and natural calamities which continuously grapple the country.”

Under the proposed Bayanihan 3, the P485-billion funding shall be spent as follows:

1. P55 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 medication and vaccines and related operational expenses;

2. P55 billion for the storage and handling of the vaccines, hiring of contact
tracers, testing and treatment under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and payment of hazard duty pay of health workers;

3. P100 billion for worker subsidies in micro, small and medium enterprises;

4. P100 billion for the capacity building of critically-impacted sectors that are “strategic” for economic growth;

5. P70 billion for additional social amelioration to affected households;

6. P20 billion for assistance to households that have been severely impacted by
recent typhoons;

7. P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers;

8. P50 billion for the relief and rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas;

9. P3 billion for internet allowances for the Department of Education K to 12 teachers and students; and,

10. P2 billion for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for internet
allowances for tertiary level teachers and students.

Earlier this year, Congress passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, or Bayanihan 1, which gave President Duterte the special authority to realign and use government funds as a response to the immediate effects of the pandemic and the lockdowns that the government had implemented to contain it.

After Bayanihan 1 lapsed in June 24, lawmakers then passed the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act, or Bayanihan 2, which provided for a P165.5 billion funding for specific COVID-19 response and recovery programs.

The Senate and House recently approved the bill extending the Bayanihan 2’s validity until June 30, 2021.

Source: Manila Bulletin (