GMA News Online : Several 19th Congress senators back proposed BBM stimulus bill

By HANA BORDEY | GMA News Online

Several senators who will be sitting in the 19th Congress have expressed their support for the stimulus bill proposed by presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

In a text message to reporters, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who ran under the banner of Marcos and presumptive Vice President Sara Duterte, recalled that passing another "Bayanihan Law" or a stimulus bill that seeks to aid the country's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of his campaign promises in the recently-concluded elections.

"My campaign promise is to pass a Bayanihan 3 package to provide funding assistance to distressed industries such as Tourism and MSMEs that were affected by the pandemic. So the request of our President to pass a stimulus package is part of my legislative priority as a re-elected Senator of the 19th congress and will have my full support," Zubiri said.

"This measure is badly needed to jump start our economic recovery and push us to becoming an Asian Tiger in the region," he added.

Like Zubiri, returning Senator Loren Legarda vowed to support a measure which has sure funding to help the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

"I support the proposed stimulus package to be given to small businesses severely affected by Covid. I will ensure that the msme law will be adequately funded. I will ensure that MSME programs of various government agencies will be effectively implemented. I will support the economic empowerment of every Filipino family," she said in a separate text message.

With Marcos Jr. eyeing the funding of the stimulus measure through the 2023 national budget, Legarda said she will support the immediate approval of the next year's General Appropriations Bill (GAB) but subject to necessary amendments.

"Yes, of course. We will study the [National Expenditures Program], see if it’s aligned to a pandemic recovery budget, and amend when needed," she she said.

Another returning senator, Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero, said a stimulus bill is exactly what the country needs, especially in the agriculture and MSMEs.

"This is exactly what we need, especially for MSME’s and the Agriculture Sector! Election spending spurred and increased our [Gross Domestic Product] and must be sustained in order to spur the economy further and create needed stable jobs domestically," Escudero said.

According to the incoming senator, aside from borrowing, the Philippines can source its funding through sales of unnecessary government assets, improvement in the collection of current taxes, fees and charges, curbing or lessening corruption and proper allocation of scarce resources through the annual budget.

"I look forward to working with like-minded and development/reform-oriented people in Government, regardless of affiliation or color they may have had or carried in the last elections and call on our people to do the same. Our country and people deserve nothing less," Escudero said.

For Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, the general ideas for the stimulus bill "are good but we have to look at the details."

Recently, Marcos said he is looking at the 2023 GAB to fund any economic stimulus measure amid the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Prior to this, House leaders led by Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez are looking to pass a stimulus package dubbed Bangon Bayan Muli Bill under the 19th Congress which will convene after June 30.

Romualdez, Marcos' cousin, appears to have a lock on the speakership after drawing the support of several parties and many House members.

The BBM Bill is expected to allow the incoming president to harness the resources available to him at the end of 2022 to finance measures in addressing the pandemic.

Two Bayanihan laws had been passed to supplement funds for the recovery and response of the government against the COVID-19 pandemic. —LBG, GMA News