House panel OKs funding provisions for Bayanihan 3 bill

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

May 21, 2021, 4:45 pm

MANILA – The House Committee on Appropriations on Friday approved the funding provisions for the PHP405.6-billion stimulus package under the Bayanihan to Arise As One Act (Bayanihan 3) to boost the country's economic recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Following the committee’s approval, the bill shall be endorsed to the plenary for another round of deliberations.

However, the third Bayanihan measure, which would contain direct emergency and social amelioration to Filipinos, livelihood interventions, as well as food security and health interventions, was passed without the certificate of availability of funds that is required by the Constitution.

The Constitution provides that “a special appropriations bill shall specify the purpose for which it is intended and shall be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer, or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposed therein”.

The House Legal Affairs Department argued that the Constitution does not state the “exact stage” in the legislative process when the certificate of availability of funds of the corresponding revenue proposal shall be presented.

It further noted that there were no legal impediments when it was approved by the House Committee on Economic Affairs in May.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the Bayanihan 3 bill already meets the constitutional requirement that the proposal is supported by funds to be raised by revenue proposed in the same bill.

He cited Sections 34, 35, and 36 of the proposal that identifies sources for funding the measure.

Under the Bayanihan 3 bill, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas may make additional advances, with or without interest, to the national government of up to 10 percent of the average income of the national government for fiscal years 2018 to 2020 to finance expenditures authorized by law to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mandatory dividend remittances by government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) will also be increased from 50 percent to 75 percent, while the President will have the power to withdraw capital from overcapitalized GOCCs.

“Bayanihan 3 already complies with the constitutional condition for special appropriation bills, and can thus be approved by the House,” Salceda said.

Bayanihan 3 provisions

The bill seeks to provide funding of PHP108 billion for a cash subsidy program of PHP1,000 for every Filipino, with another PHP108 billion in standby funds.

Around PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 1 of assistance for households in crisis situations under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Some PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 2 and PHP6 billion for Phase 3 of the AICS program.

To assist micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program shall be continued and expanded with direct funding of PHP8 billion, and stand-by funds worth PHP8 billion for Phase 2 and PHP4 billion for Phase 3.

To provide temporary employment to displaced workers, around PHP10 billion shall be appropriated for the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program, while PHP10 billion shall be appropriated as stand-by funds for Phase 2 and PHP5 billion for Phase 3.

Assistance to the agri-fishery sector will receive a total of PHP30 billion worth of standby funds to finance programs and interventions toward food security and farmer income security and welfare.

The bill allocates PHP3 billion for medical assistance for indigent patients, and stand-by funds worth PHP3 billion each for Phases 2 and 3.

A total of PHP54.6 billion shall be allocated to the Pension and Gratuity Fund for retired military and the police, while the amount of PHP5.6 billion shall be appropriated to assist the Department of Education in the implementation of its digital education, information technology, and digital infrastructure and alternative learning modalities as part of the pandemic response and transition to a new normal.

Stand-by funds worth PHP5 billion each shall be allocated for the implementation of the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act and Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, both of which are aimed at providing national nutrition. (PNA)