The House of Representatives is set to pass a set of three vital and urgent bills under its Bayanihan II Act package aimed to save the economy from further damage due to recessions triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the bills, listed as priority by President Duterte during his earlier 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) are the Financial Institutions Strategy Transfer (FIST), the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE), and the MSME regularization program.
Salceda said the Lower House hopes to pass these bills in one big package, to fast track President Duterte’s request. The FIST bill aims to help financial institutions in their bad debt resolution and management of their non-performing assets (NPAs) to cushion the adverse impact of the pandemic. The NPAs consist of non-performing loans (NPLs), real estate properties and other assets acquired in settlement of loans and receivables.
The GUIDE measure seeks to strengthen the capacity of government financial institutions, including the Philippine Guarantee Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines, to provide needed assistance to micro-, small and medium enterprise and other strategically important business ventures.
In his SONA, President Duterte has included some of Salceda’s bill as priority measures, topped by HB 0030, the Department of Disaster Resilience Act (DDRA), which has recently passed the House committee level as HB 5989.
The lawmaker said he is thankful his first bill in the 18th Congress, the DDRA remains a top priority for the Chief Executive, since it was a product of insights accumu;ated from “my years of work as Governor of Albay.”
Another Salceda bill, the re-calibrated tax reform package now called the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or CREATE (HB 4157) is seen to produce some 1.1 million jobs in five years and trigger a V-shaped recovery for the country’s economy by next year, even amid the pandemic.
Salceda noted that the President was straightforward about the challenges the country faces due to the pandemic. “We in the economic team of the House of Representatives take the President’s requests for the quick passage of a second stimulus package and of the CREATE bill as clear and unambiguous directions for where we should go,” he said.
“The President’s request is a recognition of the many months of work I was entrusted to pursue as co-chair of the Economic Stimulus Recovery Cluster, and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rest assured that as main author of these measures, I will continue to work with my colleagues to get them enacted as soon as possible, by this week if my colleagues and the Senate agree,” he added.
Aside from the DDRA and CREATE, the President also cited as priority legislations the following: the Internet Speed and Connectivity Emergency Act (HB0312); the creation of the Department of Filipino Overseas and Foreign Employment (HB 2067) approved on 3rd reading and substituted by HB 5832;
The Fire Protection Modernization Act (HB 3404), pending with the Committee on Public Order and Safety; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act (HB 6096), the National Land Use and Management Act (HB 3244), pending with Committee on Land Use; the National Stimulus Strategy Act (HB 6619), now on 3rd reading as HB 6815; the Accelerated Recovery and Investment Stimulus for the Economy or ARISE (HB 1029); and the Postponement of the Barangay and SK elections (RA 11462);
The Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Financing Enhancement System Act (HB 6793); the Satellite-Based Technologies Act; (HB 7081); the P2.06 billion Supplemental Budget to address the risks of COVID-19 (HB 6177); the Virology Institute of the Philippines Act (HB 6793); the Flagship Emergency Act of 2019 which provides the President the powers to immediately address the implementation of ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program (HB 5456);
The COVID-19 Response: Granting the Secretary of Health powers to set maximum prices for medically necessary assistance equipment and medical supplies (HB 6219); the Malasakit Centers Act (RA 11463); the Policy Paper submitted to Pres. Duterte on Digitalization to aid small business on digital processes (RA 11463); and the 112-point Comprehensive Policy Papers on multi-modal means for learning, referring to education strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic[WU1] , submitted to the President.