House OKs on final reading bill providing for ₱1.3-trillion stimulus package as COVID-19 response

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — The House of Representatives gave its final nod on third and final reading House Bill 6815 on Thursday.

Voting with 216 affirmative, 7 negative, and no abstention, the bill otherwise called Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines) was passed.

This bill, formerly known as the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA), will provide a ₱1.3-trillion of economic stimulus package to key sectors gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure seeks to extend support to micro, small, and medium enterprises. It will also give assistance to other sectors that have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the proposed measure, a ₱568-billion package is intended for immediate employment protection stimulus for affected workers.

Marikina City 2nd District Representative Stella Luz Quimbo, a primary author of the bill, proposed massive testing to be conducted through local governments, and earlier expressed the intention to test asymptomatic individuals.

Around ₱80 billion from the package will be allocated for 2021, while ₱650 billion will be for the “Build, Build, Build” program to be spread within three years, which will cover healthcare, education, and security.

The bill also seeks to generate jobs through infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management has ordered government agencies to focus their programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) on “containing the spread and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This is under the proposed P4.335-trillion cash budget for fiscal year 2021 to usher the country to economic recovery under the “new normal,” according to the National Budget Memorandum No. 136 issued on May 21.

“The bulk of the PAPs for next year is aimed at strengthening the country’s capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic by further buttressing the health care system, ensuring food security, enabling a digital government and economy, and helping communities to adjust to the 'new normal',” the DBM said in a statement.