House OKs on final reading P1.5-T infra spending bill vs. COVID-19 crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) — The bill that will allocate a P1.5-trillion fund for workers and businesses hurt by the COVID-19 crisis hurdled the House on Friday.

Lawmakers, voting 210-7, passed the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020 or House Bill No. 6920 on third and final reading.

It is aimed at “maximizing the direct and indirect creation and sustaining of jobs particularly in the Philippine rural countryside” through infrastructure projects. The CURES Act seeks to fund an extensive job creation program nationwide, particularly through infrastructure projects.

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

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

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. earlier explained the measure will also work to boost health infrastructures. During the second reading of the bill on Tuesday, he said provincial hospitals and health centers will be built through this bill, adding this will lead to the hiring of more nurses, doctors, and medical technicians.

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

Moreover, CURES Act of 2020 aims to lay the groundwork for the implementation of the recently-approved Balik Probinsiya Program, by helping create jobs for those returning to rural areas.

Aside from Villafuerte, the other proponents of the bill are Representatives Paolo Duterte, Martin Romualdez, Eric Yap, Laarni Cayetano, Michael Defensor, Loren Legarda, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.