SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives Defeat COVID-19 Ad-Hoc Committee (DCC) on Tuesday approved three important bills that will further help the country ease the impact of COVID-19 economically, financially, and socially. These are substitute bills to the proposed "Philippine Economic Stimulus Act" (PESA), “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act” (FIST), and “COVID-19 Related Anti-Discrimination Act”.
In an online meeting presided by Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, DCC co-chairman, the committee approved the substitute bill of PESA, a stimulus program that seeks to restore the country’s economic growth, maintain employment levels, and expand the country’s productive capacity. “PESA will ensure the availability of jobs and continuity of business for millions of Filipinos,” Romualdez said.
Rep. Sharon Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS OWA), co-chairperson of the DCC Subcommittee on Economic Stimulus and Response Package Cluster, said the whole proposal – Transitional, Financial, Sectoral, and Structural – is the immediate response to jumpstart the economy amid the pandemic.
Garin, along with Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City) said under the PESA Bill, the proposed economic stimulus budget for year 2020 is P568 Billion and the amount of P650 Billion plus P80 Billion are for the succeeding year, 2021, which will be the start of the Enhanced Build-Build-Build Program.
She highlighted that 260 House Members, or 85 percent of the House, signed as co-authors of the measure.
Meanwhile, approval of the substitute bill to HB 6622 or FIST Bill came after it was sponsored by the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries chairman Rep. Junie Cua (First District, Quirino), who is also the principal author of said measure. Cua said because 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 non-performing assets (NPAs) across all borrower segments. As defined in said bill, NPAs consist of the non-performing loans and real and other properties acquired (ROPAs) by financial institutions (FIs).
The bill affirms the State’s recognition of the role of banks and other financial institutions as mobilizers of savings and investments and in providing needed financial system liquidity to keep the economy afloat. Hence, it is essential that banks and other financial institutions are able to maintain their financial health to ease the impact of the pandemic.
It proposes the creation of Foreign Institutions Strategic Transfer Corporations (FISTCs) which may perform the following: 1) invest in, or acquire NPAs of FIs; 2) engage third parties to manage, collect, operate and dispose of NPAs acquired from FIs; 3) in case of non-performing loans, to restructure debt, condone debt, and undertake other restructuring related activities; and 4) renovate, improve, complete or alter their NPAs acquired from FIs, among others.
Lastly, the approved substitute bill to HB 6676 or the proposed “COVID-19 Related Anti-Discrimination Act”, authored by Rep. Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), provides it shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to engage in discrimination against confirmed, suspect, or probable cases of COVID-19, repatriated overseas Filipino workers, health workers, responders and service workers.
In sponsoring the bill, Committee on Public Order and Safety chairperson Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr. (1st District, Masbate) cited that the Philippine National Police already registered more than 100 attacks and acts of discrimination against health workers since the start of the ECQ.
The DCC approved the proposal of Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) to raise the penalty for violators. It shall consist of imprisonment of one year to 10 years, or a fine of P200,000 to P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.