Congress eyes passing third Bayanihan package: Angara

Katrina Domingo and Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 11 2020 10:09 PM

Residents receive cash assistance as part of the government's Social Amelioration Program in Malibay in Pasay City on May 1, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Senate Committee on Finance chair Sonny Angara on Wednesday said lawmakers have begun looking into the possibility of legislating a third stimulus package for sectors hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

House leaders are eyeing to pass a third Bayanihan Act either this year or in the first quarter of 2021, Angara said during budget deliberations in the Senate.

"I don't know how economic managers feel about another stimulus package... but I think the House leaders feel strongly to have another package," he said.

Senate Committee on Economic Affairs chair Imee Marcos backed the proposal, saying Congress should work on the measure as soon as possible if the first 2 Bayanihan Acts remain insufficient.

"Kung alam na rin natin na kukulangin yung Bayanihan 1 and 2 at mangangailangan tayo ng Bayanihan 3 or some stimulus package eh siguro dapat pag-isipan na natin ngayong pa lang," she said.

(If we know that the Bayanihan 1 and 2 are not enough, and we need a Bayanihan 3 or some stimulus package, we should study it now.)

"We should plan for it na as early as now. Ideally included in the General Appropriations Act of 2021 instead of all these piecemeal emergency essentially very rush legislation," she said.

Congress passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act - the Philippines' first COVID-19 aid package - in March, shortly after Luzon was placed on lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly-contagious virus.

The Bayanihan to Recover as Once Act, a follow-up measure authorizing the government to spend P165 billion for COVID-19-related projects, was signed into law in September.

Despite the 2 stimulus measures, the Philippine economy contracted by 11.5 percent in the third quarter of 2020 as the public remains reluctant to spend and travel.

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