Romualdez house focused on PH recovery

Martin Romualdez

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Monday assured that the House leadership will continue to focus on the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) roadmap for economic recovery.

Romualdez said the people should trust and fully support President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s ecrush the COVID-19, especially now that the country is in dire situation as an offshoot of the pandemic.

“Our focus now is to ensure that more anti-COVID measures will be passed by Congress for COVID-19 roadmap for economic recovery,” said Romualdez, the chairman of the powerful House committee on rules.

He said lawmakers have declared their commitment to unify their respective political parties and party-list organizations in order for the House of Representatives to pass more anti-COVID measures.

“We are relentless in our campaign to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and speed up our country's recovery from the pandemic,” said Romualdez.

“This will help accelerate the recovery and bolster the resilience of the Philippine economy through measures grounded on economic inclusivity and collective growth,” said Romualdez, adding the country needs to fully implement a responsive and sustainable economic recovery plan.

BICAM URGED TO INCREASE AID TO TEACHERS TO P5 BILLION

DEPUTY Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero has urged the Senate-House conference committee on the proposed Bayanihan 2 or We Recover as One law to increase the planned financial assistance for teachers from P300 million to P5 billion.

“P300 million will not go a long way in easing the suffering of the at least 1.2 million teaching and non-teaching staff of private and public schools that we want to help,” Romero, President of the 54-strong Party-list Coalition Foundation Incorporated (PCFI), said.

Romero said about 500,000 teachers and administrative employees of private schools badly need assistance from the government, “as they have been without jobs and income since March, when lockdown measures were imposed.”

Added to that number are about 700,000 teachers of public schools, for a total of 1.2 million, excluding non-teaching personnel of the
public school system, he added.

“If we distribute P300 million equally among 1.2 million teachers and non-teachers, each will receive a measly P250 in aid. If the money is shared by the affected 500,000 personnel in private schools, each of them will get P600. Clearly, we have to allocate a much bigger amount for the intended beneficiaries,” Romero stressed.

Under the Bayanihan 2 bill, the P300 million would be used for “subsidies and allowances” for teaching and non-teaching personnel in both public and private elementary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, including part-time faculty.

HELP MSME FIRST TO PROVIDE JOBS AND SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas urged the government to provide incentives and assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) so they can implement health protocols against COVID-19 while resuming business operations and creating jobs for the labor force.

Vargas said the government could provide tax relief to MSMEs provided that they are able to observe health and safety protocols in the work place.

He said the implementation of such protocols is important to ensure employees are able to return to work safely.

“There should be a carrot first before a stick approach in requiring businesses to implement minimum health standards in the workplace.

Sana bago pairalin ang mga patakaran at kaparusahan, tulungan nating makabangon muli ang mga negosyante. Sila ang makakapagbigay ng oportunidad at trabaho sa mga manggagawang nawalan ng kita dahil sa krisis sa COVID-19,” he said.

Vargas’ statement comes at the heels of the Department of Labor and Employment’s release of Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-04, series of 2020, or the DTI and DOLE Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19.

The guidelines, which took effect on August 15, require frontline and economic priority workers, or those work in high priority sectors, both public and private; have high interaction with and exposure to the public and live or work in special concern areas, must be tested once every quarter.

All employees in the hospitality and tourism sectors, as identified and declared by the Department of Tourism should undergo RT-PCR test once every four weeks. Aside from regular testing, DOLE and DTI also mandate the wearing of face mask and face shield in workplaces. Employers must also provide disinfection materials and supplies in strategic areas in workplaces, including company shuttle services.

Vargas said MSMEs may have difficulty observing some of the health protocols required by DOLE and DTI considering their operations have been affected by the pandemic.

“Kahit gustuhin ng MSMEs na sundin ang mga patakaran ng gobyerno, baka hindi nila magawa kung kapos na ang kanilang pondo. Win-win solution ang pagbibigay sa kanila ng incentives sa pagsunod. Tuloy ang negosyo, may trabaho ang mga empleyafo, at makasisiguro tayong ligtas ang mga opisina, pagawaan at iba pang lugar ng negosyo,” he said.

Vargas said it is important for the government partner with MSMEs in generating jobs and implementing health protocols, considering they account for 99 percent of registered businesses in the country.

Based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), MSMEs generated 5.7 million jobs in 2018, equivalent to 63.19 percent of the total employment in the country for that year.

90-DAY LOAN PAYMENT GRACE PERIOD AS COMPROMISE UNDER BAYANIHAN 2 Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is offering a compromise on the proposed loan payment grace period under the Bayanihan 2 or We Recover as One bill.

“I am proposing three months, instead of one year as suggested by the House or one month as contained in the Senate version of the bill,” Rodriguez said Monday.

A conference committee is now reconciling the two chambers’ divergent versions of the proposed law that would enable the country to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

The panel is considering a loan payment moratorium of two months. A grace period will be a big relief for businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, which are reeling from the pandemic.

Rodriguez however believes that a one or two months grace period will be too short for our small entrepreneurs and borrowers who continue to suffer business reverses because of this prolonged pandemic.

The Microfinance Industry should be treated separately from banks. The MFIs had not collected interests from small clients from March 17 to June 30 because of the ECQ and GCQ. A one year moratorium will result in the collapse of the MFI industry. A one month moratorium or exemption for MFIs will help them recover its businesses reverses

Rodriguez said the House proposal of one year “is too long and might cripple banks and other lenders.”

“I agree with the Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Bankers Association of the Philippines that a one-year grace period will be disastrous to our banking industry and to our economy,” he said.

He said it would be small borrowers and depositors who would suffer if the banking system is affected.

“We do not want that to happen as an unintended consequence of the proposed We Recover as One Law. That would be another crisis that we
might have to face,” he added.