SAP cash aid will continue despite Bayanihan Law expiration – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   June 25, 2020   •   683

MANILA, Philippines – The expiration of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act will not affect the release and distribution of the cash assistance intended for low-income households gravely affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, Malacañang said on Thursday.

“Sa ngayon, wala namang epekto,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a virtual presser. “Hindi naman po sakop iyan ng Bayanihan Act. It’s a physical act of disbursing what has been allotted by Congress. So wala pong problema iyan.”

Under Bayanihan Law, the government is mandated to provide emergency subsidies ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 under the Social Amelioration Program to 18 million poor households who are heavily affected by the community quarantine.

In the first tranche of the program, family beneficiaries living in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) have already received cash aid. In the second tranche, additional five million families living in ECQ areas will receive subsidy from the government.

Roque expressed his belief that the government did its job when it came to distributing financial assistance to the program’s intended beneficiaries and other sectors affected by the pandemic.

He also believes that the government has implemented the necessary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, such as the procurement of test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies.

“Bagaman tumaas, kung ikukumpara sa buong daigdig, di naman po ganuon ka-grabe, third in ASEAN but worldwide, I think we’ve done a very good job, lalong lalo na po sa paglimit ng mortality,” he said.

Roque, however, admits that the Bayanihan Law’s expiration will affect the country’s further needs if the public health crisis continues and more people will become infected with the virus.

“Makakaapekto po yan sa future needs natin, kita ninyo naman ang nangyari sa Cebu… Ang istorya ng Cebu ay istorya ng buong Pilipinas. Kapag sumipa po ang numero ng COVID-19, napakarami pong pangangailangan,” he said, referring to Cebu City which appears to be an emerging virus hotspot after recording a spike in the number of infections.

Meanwhile, Roque said the chief executive may call for a special session of Congress once the proposed economic stimulus program to help ride out the coronavirus pandemic is finalized.

“Magpapatawag po ang presidente ng special session kung mayroon na pong nabuong concensus kung magkano ang nabuong stimulus package dahil napasama na po sa isang panukalang batas yung extension ng emergency powers at stimulus package,” he said.

The Congress adjourned sine die its first regular session early this month without passing the proposed second Bayanihan Act.

The Palace earlier said the government prefers a proposed economic stimulus that it can afford and will not require too much borrowing.

Congress will resume its session in July. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Poe calls Bayanihan 3 an ’empty promise’ without appropriate funds

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Grace Poe expressed concern that the proposed Bayanihan 3 may end up as an empty promise if lacks appropriate funds.

Poe previously asked where will Bayanihan 3 get its funding after House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco filed it to continue the government’s response amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Senator agrees with any initiative that will help the people reeling from this pandemic, however, she stressed there is a need to determine how the Bayanihan 3 will get its funds.

“How are we going to source it, where are we going to spend it? We have to know the real score so that we will not make empty promises to the people,” she said.

She added that passing new taxes to fund the measure may not be feasible, citing the backlash from the recent hearings on the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs).

Poe said, the public should also know how the Bayanihan 2 funds are being used.

“Let us consider that Bayanihan 2 was extended, therefore, we still need to get a proper accounting of what was spent in Bayanihan 2—if there are any savings or deficit,” she said. AAC

BSP urged to probe banks allegedly violating debt moratorium

Robie de Guzman   •   February 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday called on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to investigate “erring” banks and ensure compliance with the provisions under two laws passed to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gatchalian made the call as he expressed concern over the reported non-compliance of some banks on the debt moratorium.

He pointed out that as the country’s regulator of the banking industry, the BSP is mandated to ensure that banks and credit card issuers strictly follow the laws and protect the consumers’ interests as provided for in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

The senator said the BSP should exercise its supervisory and regulatory powers over these erring banks by enforcing the provisions of the Bayanihan Laws as he noted the mounting complaints on consumer credit card received by the central bank.

“A kid gloves treatment will do no good at this time. Everyone is having a hard time financially and they should do their share as dictated upon by the law,” he said in a statement.

Last January 14, the BSP issued a circular letter ordering all banks to strictly comply with the prevailing regulations on credit cards and financial consumer protection as well as those under the Bayanihan laws.

Section 4 of the Bayanihan 2 requires banks to implement a non-extendible mandatory one-time 60-day grace period to all loans of individuals and entities that are existing, current and outstanding falling due on or before December 31, 2020.

“We anticipated that some loans would accrue interests because the party concerned has defaulted and that’s precisely the reason why we introduced these provisions in the laws, to protect the consumers amid the global health pandemic,” Gatchalian said.

“Huwag naman po sana tayong maging ganid para lang lumaki ang kita o tubo sa mga pinautang. Hindi tama na manantala sa mga taong gipit na lalo na kung nakasaad na ito sa batas. Dapat pairalin natin ang bayanihan sa gitna ng pandemya,” he added.

He further appealed to banks to instead help in the government’s efforts to recover from the economic slump amid the pandemic.

SAP 3 posts circulating online, fake news—DSWD

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clarified that there is no truth to the posts circulating online about a third tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

In a statement, the DSWD explained that there is an ongoing payout for the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) which is a provision of Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

The department clarified that the Bayanihan 2 ESP has a set of beneficiaries different from SAP 1 and SAP 2.

“The Bayanihan 2 ESP is a one-time cash grant of P5,000 to P8,000 which is being distributed to low income family beneficiaries who are physically residing in areas placed under granular lockdown,” the DSWD said.

As of December 19, there are 145,025 beneficiaries who received their emergency subsidy under Bayanihan 2. AAC

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