Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda strongly defended at the House plenary the concept and need for a Universal Basic Household Income under House Bill 8628, the ‘Bayanihan to Arise as One,’ which the chamber passed Tuesday night on second reading.
The approved Bayanihan 3 has a P401 billion stimulus package to provide more aid to Filipinos amid the pandemic to be released under three phases: P165.9 billion in Phase 1; P186 billion in Phase 2, and P48.6 billion in Phase 3.
Under the bill, two rounds of financial aid worth P1,000 shall be granted to each Filipino. The cash subsidy has a total funding allocation of P216 billion. Pandemic-affected households will receive a one-time cash subsidy worth P5,000 to P10,000 to be implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
In his defense of the measure during the plenary, Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee said, it is the “very first time in Philippine policy history that we introduced the concept of Universal Basic Household Income involving P1,000 per Filipino in one assured tranche, and P1,000 on standby, with no ‘ifs or buts’ to avoid politicization. The rich, of course, can freely decline or return the amount if they want. After all, there are very few rich people in this country. The fact is that almost everybody is hurting,” he stressed.
A noted economist, Salceda recalled that he first proposed the idea in a lengthy memorandum in May 2020 to the President and his economic managers, in lieu of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). “We did not have then the database. It would have been easier to just list everyone we give the money to, instead of finding a list of people to get the money,” he added.
The lawmaker said the approved measure would be more simple, quick and fairer to poor families which tend to have bigger households. “Assistance on a per-percon basis is more equitable, because peole eat on a per-person basis. It really is that basic,” he stressed.
Earlier Salceda pointed out that the best way to ensure quick economic recovers is to protect household income since over 70% of the Philippine economy is consumption-based. “As much as I would like to make us a more investment-driven economy, for now, for now consumption creates Filipino jobs. We need to pump-prime consumption. It creates jobs in resilient and essential sectors, instead of us having to choose winners and losers, and potentially feed dead horses,” he added.
Bayanihan 3 is expected to hurdle the Senate before Congress adjourns for the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July. “We hope that during or in the days after the SONA, we have already provided help to the people,” he said.
“The period between June and December 2021 will be the gap between the lingering crisis and the return to a more normal economy. By December, a critical mass of our people will have already been vaccinated. Bayanihan 3 is really the bridge between the crisis and recovery, the bridge to herd immunity,” he explained.
During the plenary Salceda thanked the House members who have set aside their difference to get the bill through, with 293 or 98% of the 300 lawmakers having already co-sponsored it.
“We will send our approved bill to the Senate shortly, so the ball will be in their court. The people obviously need this measure, so we hope they will do something about it,” Salceda said.