Cayetano, other lawmakers file ₱1.5 trillion infra spending bill amid COVID-19 crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 12) - As jobs and businesses were badly hit by the coronavirus crisis, House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and eight other lawmakers filed a ₱1.5-trillion infrastructure spending bill to cushion the impact of the pandemic.

House Bill No. 6709 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020 is aimed at “maximizing the direct and indirect creation and sustaining of jobs particularly in the Philippine rural countryside” through infrastructure projects.

Under the measure, ₱500 billion will be released for three years to fund the implementation of infrastructure projects related to health, education, agriculture, local roads/infrastructure, and livelihood.

Some of priority projects include construction and expansion of local health facilities, establishment of digital infrastructures in schools, construction of provincial fish ports or post-harvest facilities, and expansion of farm-to-market roads.

The bill would also fund credit and financing programs for small and medium enterprises, research and development program for product development, and implementation of Labor department’s emergency employment program for displaced and barangay workers.

Moreover, CURES Act of 2020 claimed to lay the necessary groundwork for the implementation of the recently approved Balik Probinsiya Program, in which the bill could help in absorption of workers returning to the countryside.

Other proponents of the bill are House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speakers LRay Villafuerte, Jr, Paolo Duterte, and Loren Legarda, House Appropriations Committee chair Eric Yap, House Public Accounts Committee chair Michael Defensor, House Good Government and Public Accountability committee chair Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, and Taguig City-Pateros 2nd district Rep. Laarni Cayetano. 

Last month, House Ways and Means Committee chair Joey Salceda and Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo proposed a stimulus package bill that would assist workers and businesses affected by the pandemic.

Malacanang earlier placed badly-hit areas by COVID-19 -- Metro Manila, the province of Laguna, and Cebu City -- under modified enhanced community quarantine, which relaxes some rules in order to slowly open up the economy.

READ: LIST: What daily life would be like in areas under modified ECQ, GCQ, and no quarantine

Meanwhile, more than 50 provinces were allowed to go back to their normal day-to-day lives starting May 16.