Romualdez: ARISE to protect Pinoys and help Duterte kickstart economy, fight COVID-19

Martin Romualdez with his deputy majority leaders
Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee Co-Chairman and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez (left) discusses with his deputy majority leaders and other House members the proposed P1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investment Stimulus for Economy (ARISE) before it was passed on second reading at the plenary of the House of Representatives.The Bill will help President Rodrigo Duterte kickstart the economy. Photo by VER NOVENO

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Tuesday said the approval on second reading of the proposed P1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) Act will help President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte kickstart the economy.

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, said ARISE or the economic stimulus for workers will protect close to 16 million workers, create three million short-term jobs and other measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) over the period of three years.

He made the statement after the House of Representatives on Monday night approved on second reading the proposed ARISE measure under House Bill (HB) 6815, which has P688 billion spending this year.

“The approval of the economic stimulus package (ARISE) will ensure the availability of jobs and continuity of business for millions of Filipinos. A stimulus program that seeks to restore our economic growth, maintain employment levels and expand the country's productive capacity,” said Romualdez on the measure that also aims to create 1.5 million jobs through infrastructure projects and protect 5.57 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by rescuing their troubled companies.

Romualdez also said the measure will also protect the people from COVID-19 through the P20 billion allocation for the mass testing program of the Department of Health (DoH) or P10 billion each this year and next year to boost consumer and business confidence.

“We have to jumpstart our economic activities, while keeping our people healthy, the soonest time possible to ensure our survival as a nation,” said Romualdez on the measure being eyed for third and final reading approval before Congress adjourns session this week.

“As we create more jobs and try to jumpstart our economy, we also need to work double time to ensure that health standards and protocols are geared towards protecting the vulnerable sectors of our society,” Romualdez stressed.

On Tuesday of last week, the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC) co-chaired by Romualdez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano 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 program, formerly the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA).

“We have been working very hard to address the economic meltdown ripping across the country and ensure that people’s rights are protected during the outbreak,” said Romualdez on the economic stimulus program that is meant to ensure business operations and jobs’ retention in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Salceda, the chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said funding sources will come from the Department of Finance (DoF) through the Bureau of Treasury, government financial institutions and government-owned corporations as well as bonds.

He also said that ARISE will authorize the President to realign within six months items that cannot be utilized due to COVID such as travel and forced savings.

The measure also extends the validity of the 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Acts to 2021.

The bill also extends the power of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, particularly the provisions on testing, wage subsidies, Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) TUPAD, loan payment extension, assistance of the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and on Agriculture (DA), ease of credit rules, health protocols to mitigate transmission, reallocation and realignment of appropriations.

ARISE will also create an Economic Stimulus Board and Economic Resilience Plan to include required investments in health, digital infrastructure, and database to withstand economic shocks.

The proposal will condone the loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries to enhance access to credit facilities.

Moreover, the proposed ARISE will provide the following: - P110 billion wage subsidy for the period of two months. This payroll expense subsidy, requires employee retention to qualify for subsidy. This will include self employed, free lancers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)

- P25 billion for cash for work of the DoLE this year. This seeks to help 3 million beneficiaries at P10,000 each. Also, P5 billion will be allocated as assistance to the technical and vocational learners.

-A total of P42 billion educational subsidy - P50 billion for Small Business Corporation's (SBCorp) existing loan programs for MSMEs this year and another P25 billion next year P50 billion program for SME and agri fishery this year under the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines's (DBP) Interest-Free Loan Program

- The loan guarantee program by the Philippine Guarantee Corporation (PGC) shall have an allocation of PHP20 billion this year and another P20 billion next year. An amount of PHP20 billion is appropriated as additional paid up capital of PGC.

- P10 billion to DTI as additional assistance to MSMEs this year.

This seeks to help 1 million establishments - P58 billion to the Department of Tourism (DoT) as assistance to the tourism industry this year.

- P70 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as assistance to the transportation industry this year.

- P44 billion this 2020 to the Board of Investments (BOI) for grants and technical assistance to business entities engaged in exporting or importing, and those manufacturing new products and services to meet the needs of the domestic market, in order to restore or identify new global market trends to increase competitive advantage.

- P15 billion for cash for work program in agriculture

-P66 billion to Department of Agriculture to support the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program under Executive Order (EO) No. 114 of 2020.

- P100 billion will be allocated to National Emergency Investment Vehicle (NIEV), which will created under the proposal to enable faster recovery of certain critically impacted businesses vital to the economy. Also, P25 billion is appropriated as equity of the National Government in NIEV.

An additional equity of P25 billion shall be appropriated in the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Also, the proposed ARISE will include enhanced Build, Build, Build program worth P650 billion in 3 years starting 2021. Provided that 20 percent shall be appropriated and released in 2020, 40 percent in 2021, and 40 percent in 2022.

This enhanced BBB will include: health facilities for UHC and pandemic demands, “Schools for the Future” facilities, infrastructure for creative industries, infrastructure for food security and agricultural resilience, passenger ports and terminals, police stations and barracks, prison infrastructure, social housing projects, relocation of manufacturing and service and facilities.