House OKs on 2nd reading P1.5-trillion infra spending bill vs pandemic
MANILA, Philippines – A bill that would allot a P1.5-trillion fund for infrastructure projects in rural areas for the next 3 years may soon hurdle the House of Representatives.
Lawmakers on late Tuesday evening, June 2, approved on 2nd reading the substitute bill to House Bill (HB) No. 6709 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (Cures) Act of 2020. The measure must be passed on 3rd reading for it to successfully hurdle the House.
No less than Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano co-authored the bill along with the following ranking legislators:
- Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr, Camarines Sur 2nd District
- Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, Davao City 1st District
- Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, Antique
- Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Leyte 1st District
- House committee on appropriations chair Eric Yap, ACT-CIS
- House committee on public accounts chair Mike Defensor, Anakalusugan
- House committee on good government and public accountability chair Jose Sy-Alvarado, Bulacan 1st District
- Lani Cayetano, Taguig City-Pateros 2nd District
The proposed Cures Act aims to empower the government to tap into a P1.5-trillion Cures Fund, where P500 billion would be released annually in the next 3 years to fund construction projects in 5 sectors affected by the coronavirus crisis – health, education, agriculture, local roads, and livelihood.
Infrastructure projects would include barangay health centers, municipal and city hospitals, digital equipment for COVID-19 testing, telemedicine services to post-harvest facilities, trading centers, and farm-to-market roads.
The bill is designed to provide jobs to Filipinos affected by the lockdown imposed in parts of the country due to COVID-19, complementing Senator Bong Go's pet initiative, the Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa program.
The lockdown imposed in parts of the country displaced thousands of workers, several of whom are struggling to find decent work in the middle of the pandemic. The Philippine government has also been repatriating overseas Filipino workers, who are now among the jobless in the country. (READ: 'Walang malapitan': Stranded 'probinsyanos' feel abandoned by Duterte gov't)
The proposed P1.5-trillion Cures Act is on top of another economic stimulus package worth P1.3 trillion that the House already passed on 2nd reading on Monday, June 1.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines has a total of 18,997 coronavirus cases, with 966 deaths and 4,063 recoveries. – Rappler.com