House panel okays anti-COVID measures

THE House Defeat COVID-19 Committee approved three measures that seek to respond to and help combat effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, co-chairperson of the DCC along with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, said the various clusters of DCC have been working very hard to address the economic meltdown rippling across the country while ensuring that people’s rights are protected during the outbreak.

The three bills are  House Bill 6622 or Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act; substitute bill for  Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA)   and House Bill 6676 or the measure prohibiting the discrimination against persons who are declared confirmed, suspect, probable, and recovered cases of COVID-19, repatriated Filipinos, healthcare workers, responders, and service workers.

Under the PESA, a P1.3 trillion economic stimulus package until 2023 aimed at restarting the shuttered economy.

“These measures are not the panacea to all our problems. But these pieces of legislation may be considered as the next step in our calibrated response to ease the suffering of our people,” Romualdez told DCC’s virtual hearing via Zoom.

“But we all know that these dole-outs are not forever. We have to jumpstart our economic activities, while keeping our people healthy, the soonest time possible to ensure our survival as a nation,” Romualdez added.      

Upon the motion of Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo, the DCC approved the report of the Economic Stimulus Response Package Subcommittee co-chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo and AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin on the economic stimulus.

Garin said the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA) or the P1.3 trillion economic stimulus’ measure will be implemented in the coming years. The measure was co-authored by at least 260 lawmakers.        

The economic stimulus program is meant to ensure business operations and jobs’ retention in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 4.1 million employees from the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are expected to benefit under the economic stimulus package by rescuing their troubled companies.   

The proposed “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Law was also approved by the DCC through the motion of House Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga Rep. Rimpy Bondoc.

The measure seeks to help financial institutions in their bad debt resolution and management of their non-performing assets (NPAs) to cushion the effects of the pandemic on their financial operations.

As a result of the pandemic and disruption of economic activities, most financial Institutions are facing a period of delayed loan collections and are at risk of recording higher NPAs across all borrower segments

NPAs are financial institutions' non-performing loans (NPLs) and real and other properties acquired (ROPAS) in settlement of loans and receivables.

The DCC through the motion of Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo also endorsed for plenary approval the report of the Peace and Order cluster co-chaired by Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, Masbate Rep. Narciso Bravo, Jr. and Quezon City Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay, Jr. on the Anti-Discrimination Bill principally sponsored by Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte. 

The Anti-Discrimination Bill prohibits discrimination against persons who are declared confirmed, suspect, probable, and recovered cases of COVID-19, healthcare workers and service providers.

It seeks to grant full, inviolable protection against prejudice and discrimination to those who have already suffered and recovered from COVID-19, those who carry the brunt by providing medical care, logistical and service support. It also seeks to recognize the dignity and heroism of the health workers, responders and service workers.