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Gearing for recovery

Keith A. Calayag

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The Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC) in the House of Representatives has approved the proposed P1.5 trillion economic stimulus for infrastructure projects which aims to help economy recover from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

The report of the DCC Social Amelioration Cluster as to House Bill 6709 or the “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020” was approved during

the DCC’s hearing on Thursday.

The bill aims to create millions of jobs that will spring from infrastructure projects in the rural areas.

According to the bill, the fund shall be disbursed for the implementation of infrastructure projects across these priority areas: health, education, agriculture, local roads and livelihood.

Among the infrastructure projects that could be funded by the CURES fund under the bill are barangay health centers, district hospitals, testing centers, washing and sanitation areas in schools, repair of schools, digital infrastructure in public learning institutions, improvement of fish ports and post-harvest facilities and construction of farm-to-market roads, aside from others.

The appropriation for the CURES fund shall be made available for three fiscal years or P500 billion each year of implementation from the approval of the bill.

New Normal

The panel, in the same hearing has also approved the report of the DCC New Normal Cluster as to House Bill 6623 or the proposed “Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020.”

The proposed measure aims to prepare Filipinos for a life after restrictions due to the pandemic have been lifted.

Under the bill, the wearing of masks will be mandatory as well as temperature checks and physical distancing of at least one meter in all public places.

These protocols will be in place for three years and may be lifted earlier once a vaccine to eradicate the virus is discovered.

Testing

The panel has also approved the report of the DCC Health Cluster on House Bill 6707 or the bill encouraging baseline polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 testing for vulnerable members of society for the purpose of intercepting COVID-19 transmission.

The bill aims to detect and manage COVID-19 early, especially in asymptomatic carriers, assuring the Filipino public that they are returning to a safer workplace.

The vulnerable members of society covered in the bill include persons returning to work with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, pregnancy and old age.

They also cover persons entering the Philippine territory coming from abroad, including foreign nationals, provided that the cost of testing for foreign nationals shall be at their own expense.

The bill further provides that priority should be given to front liners such as health care workers; sales personnel in public markets and security guards, among others.

According to Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, the bills will be elevated to the plenary for discussion this afternoon.

The panel has also approved in the same hearing the resolution principally authored by Rep. Bayani Fernando urging government to fast track the disbursement of the second tranche of the emergency subsidy program by giving he barangay the power to identify the beneficiaries and disburse the allocation as well as the resolution principally authored by Rep. Florida Robes, expressing the commitment of the House of Representatives to enact the P66 billion supplemental budget request of the Department of Agriculture for programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

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