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House appro panel OKs Bayanihan 3 bill worth P405.6B

The House committee on appropriations approved Friday the measure seeking for a third Bayanihan law, which outlines a range of interventions worth P405.6 billion to help Filipinos recover from the COVID-19 pandemic .

During the panel meeting, ways and means committee chairperson Joey Salceda moved to approve the measure, which he calls a "lifeline package."

Salceda's motion was approved.

The bill, however, was approved without a certification of available funds from the Bureau of Treasury, which is required as stated in the 1987 Constitution: "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."

Bureau of Treasury's Dominick Mariano said "the Treasury has always been ready to certify the availability of funds especially as it pertains to excess revenues compared to programs."

He said at present, the Bureau of Treasury is still in the middle of financing the budgetary requirements for this fiscal year, which amounts to P4 trillion.

"Given that, we are still looking at the revenue performance compared to the disbursement schedule that we have for the year," Mariano said.

Mariano said the Bureau of Treasury could only certify if there are excess revenues or any corresponding new revenue sources. The office is also checking fiscal sustainability of the measures.

Following this, Bacolod Representative Greg Gasataya made another motion: "Considering the urgency of the measure and to ensure its passage, the committee moved for the approval of the bill, which the amount appropriated therein is subject to the certification of national treasury and funds actually available."

"Should the amount is less than what is provided in the bill, the committee on economic affairs should adjust the figures therein based on the certification of the Bureau of Treasury. The balance of which shall be as standby funds, subject to style," Gasataya added.

Gasataya's motion got the panel's nod.

The proposed Bayanihan 3 is among the priorities of the lower chamber before it adjourns sine die on June 5. Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is among the key proponents of the measure.

Under Phase 1 of the proposed measure, a total of P108 billion is allotted for the assistance that will be given to all Filipinos.

Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo, one of the principal authors, has said the bill aims to give two rounds of assistance, worth at least P1,000 to all Filipinos, regardless of their status in life. Another P108 billion is being alloted in its Phase II.

Quimbo, an economist, said the measure merely seeks to feed the hungry.

"At this point in time talagang hunger is a real problem. Hunger incidents reached its highest at 30% in the third quarter of last year. Dumoble po ang hunger incidents in the last 12 months. That's the reason why this bill is essentially an 'ayuda bill,'" Quimbo said.

Assistance for families affected by COVID-19, the agriculture and fishery sector, wage subsidies for MSMEs, teachers, and for overseas Filipino workers will also be provided.

Meanwhile, Gabriela party-list Representative Arlene Brosas, who has pushed for a P10,000 assistance per family, questioned why the aid will not be given as a one-time payment.

"Since isa po kami sa mga nagsusulong nito, lalong-lalo na sa ayuda to all Filipinos, talaga namang kinocommend namin na ipasa itong ayuda. Kasi po two tranches, Phase I and Phase II... bakit hindi isang bigayan na lang? What is hindering us?" Brosas asked.

Salceda admitted that it is only what the proponents wanted. He also said he could push for it only if the Senate will already approve the still pending revenue measures.—AOL, GMA News