MANILA - A Philippine lawmaker said Sunday that the country incurred an estimated P3.3 to 3.4 trillion in economic damage this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent devastating typhoons.
According to Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo, who filed the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise as One Act” or Bayanihan 3 bill, the Philippine economy suffered a setback as early as the first quarter due to the eruption of Taal Volcano.
“Yung first nine months ng ating taong 2020 ay pagbagsak ang ating naranasan. Ang inaasahan natin, kabuuang pagbagsak. Ang sabi ng ating economic managers 5.5 percent,” Quimbo said on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
(Our economy has dropped during the first nine months of 2020. So, we expect an overall loss. Our economic managers say, it’ll be by 5.5 percent.)
“Pero, sa totoo lang po, kahit anong gawin nating pag-forecast eh tila it’s going to be more than 5.5 percent, ang pagbagsak. At sinasabi ng ilang international agencies, pati na rin ng local banks, dahil may mga research sila, eh baka umabot ng 10 porsyento ang kabuuang pagbagsak ng buong taon,” she added.
(But the truth is, no matter how we forecast it, it appears it’s going to be more than 5.5 percent, the losses. Even international agencies and some banks, because they do their own research, estimate the overall loss to 10 percent for the entire year.)
“Kaya yun ang aking basehan ng pag-compute dun sa sinasabi ko na nasa P3.3 hanggang 3.4 trillion … ang mawawala sa buong 2020.”
(That’s the basis of my computation that the economic loss for the entire year of 2020 could be between P3.3 and 3.4 trillion.)
Quimbo, an economist, authored the proposed Bayanihan 3 law which the House Committee on Economic Affairs would tackle on Tuesday, saying the first two Bayanihan laws meant to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic were not enough.
She said even the allocation for COVID-19 response from the proposed P4.5 trillion 2021 national budget needs to be augmented.
“Alam naman natin na ang pangunahing dahilan… ay ang pandemya. Beginning March, nung tayo ay nag-ECQ, napakaraming negosyante ang apektado dahil ‘di sila nakapagbukas ng kanilang negosyo, pero patuloy pa rin ang gastos nila tulad ng pasahod, mga bayad sa utang,” she said.
(We all know that the primary reason is the pandemic. Beginning March, when the government declared the enhanced community quarantine, a lot of businesses were affected because they could not operate yet they continue to spend for their workers’ salaries and payment of their loans.)
“So ang ending, kahit natapos na ang ECQ, naubos na ang puhunan. So hirap po ang napakarami,” she added.
(So, they ended up losing their investment when the ECQ was lifted. That’s why many are suffering.)
Quimbo said her proposed bill intends to provide P400 billion to assist households, workers and businesses affected by the pandemic (P330 billion) and for disaster response (P70 billion).
It also seeks to extend the validity of Bayanihan 2 beyond Dec. 19, noting that the allotted P165 billion spending under it has not been used up yet.
Quimbo said funding for her proposed legislation can be sourced from the 2020 budget savings, as well as possible loans, noting the country’s good credit ratings.
“In our budget hearings, we discovered P1.3 trillion ang hindi pa nadi-disburse sa P4.09 trillion 2020 budget… as of mid-October,” she said.
(In our budget hearings, we discovered some P1.3 trillion have yet to be disbursed from the P4.09 trillion 2020 budget as of mid-October.)
“Kaya meron pa pong kumbaga elbow para ma-realign pa po ang mga savings na yan. Ngayong pandemic, kailangan talagang maubos natin kung ano po yung ating binudget for the year 2020,” she added.
(So, there’s still an elbow room to realign the savings. In this time of a pandemic, we should spend the budget for the year 2020.)