Press Release
March 23, 2020

Sponsorship speech on the "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act"

Thank you, Mr. President.

Una sa lahat, sa ngalan ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Durterte, gusto kong iparating ang taos-pusong pasasalamat, kasama ng aking mga kasamahan sa Senado, sa lahat ng ating mga kababayan na nagkaisang sumunod sa mga pahayag ng ating Pangulo hinggil sa Enhanced Community Quarantine at nanatili sa kanilang mga bahay upang hindi na lalong kumalat pa sa ating bansa ang Coronavirus. Nagpapasalamat din po kami sa lahat ng ating mga health workers at frontliners na walang tigil na naglilingkod sa bayan, mapaaraw man o gabi.

Ang panukalang batas na ito ay para sa ikabubuti ng ating bansa - para mabigyan ang gobyerno ng sapat na awtoridad na maglaan ng pondo ng bayan para tugunan ang mga pagsubok na dala ng COVID-19.

Saan kukunin ang pondo? Yan ang magandang balita ko sa inyong lahat. May pera po tayo. Huwag po kayong mangamba, naging responsable ang ating gobyerno sa pamamahala ng ating pera.

Kung ihahambing ko ang kalagayan ng ating gobyeno sa isang pamilya, sa isang mabahay, ganito po iyon: Ang pamilya natin ay naging responsable nitong nakaraang mga taon, mayroong sapat na ipon, at nagplano nang maigi para sa ating mga gastusin. Kung kailangan mang umutang sa tindahan, walang problema. Tayo po ay pahihiramin dahil nakakabayad tayo nang maayos.

Kaya huwag po kayong mabahala. Ang kailangan nalang ay ipasa ang batas na ito para bigyan ang administrasyon ng awtoridad lipunin ang pera sa iba't ibang departamento at ibigay sa mga taong nangangailangan at sa mga programang nararapat.

And this is where I go into the details of what needs to be done:

We must be able to secure the welfare of the 24.6 million Filipino families, particularly the 18 million families who are poor or from the informal sector. Our immediate goal is to provide each of these 18 million with 5,000 to 8,000 pesos a month for the next two months. This will provide for their food and other daily needs, and will increase the chances that they will stay home and keep themselves safe and other Filipinos safe.

Our enhanced community quarantine in Luzon is designed precisely, and if done properly, to slow the spread of the transmissions, to save lives, and allow us to expand our health system to test and treat our people. This enhanced community quarantine is coupled with numerous measures, which need to be carried out at all levels of government, by the private sector, and civil society. These are urgent and extraordinary actions because this virus spreads fast. We need to slow it down and eventually halt it for good.

However, these necessary actions do not come without economic cost. The island group of Luzon accounts for 72 percent of our gross domestic product or GDP. Without additional intervention, our positive GDP growth rate may reverse to negative 0.6 percent. If we are able to beat this virus in three months and redouble our efforts to recover our growth trajectory in the second half of the year, the economy can still grow by up to 4.6/4.3 percent,according to NEDA.

Para sa milyon-milyong pamilyang Pilipino, nakasalalay sa mga numerong ito kung kanilang malalagpasan o hindi ang krisis at sakripisyo na kanilang dinaranas ngayon.

We must prepare for challenging times. Given the likely contraction in GDP growth, this year's budget deficit will surely exceed the 3.6 percent threshold that our economic managers estimated before the enhanced community quarantine was put in place. It is crucial, however, for the government to keep fighting COVID-19 and to keep investing in our infrastructure program and our people so that economic sectors are jumpstarted and jobs are created as quickly as possible once the outbreak is behind us.

HINDI TAYO NAG-IISA. Economies around the world are taking a hit, and governments will spend beyond their means to protect their people from this menace. Where we differ from many are in our strong macroeconomic fundamentals and effective debt management. A large part of this strength comes from the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which we passed and has allowed us to raise revenues in advance as assurance against these kinds of risks. At dahil nagkaisa tayo para ipasa ang Comprehensive Tax Reform Package, nakalikom tayo ng dagdag na pondo para makatugon sa mga 'di inaasahang banta sa ating bayan, gaya ng pandemic na kinakaharap natin ngayon.

Secretary of Finance Sonny Dominguez recently shared that we are now in talks with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for concessional financing of up to 2 billion dollars (or around 100 billion pesos). We have also received a grant of 3 million dollars from ADB and a loan of 100 million dollars from the World Bank to fight COVID-19. We will work with other sources to finance the balance. The confidence that the financial sector places in our country signifies that they are confident in our ability to reenergize the economy and pay back what we borrow.

It was a very different fiscal picture back in 1997, during the Asian Financial Crisis, when it was much harder to borrow from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The national government was in a difficult fiscal position, which led to a fiscal crisis in 2003.

In 2009, during the global financial crisis, we tried to gather idle cash from various national government agencies to mobilize a decisive response, but we were prevented by various laws.

The lessons must be learned: we cannot address new challenges with tools designed for old ones. This health emergency is a "black swan," and our current budget does not account for a challenge of this magnitude--one that is having this much impact on our way of life.

We must have the ability to ensure that all 24.6 million families in the Philippines do not fall below the standard needed to survive. The government has done its best within its present means to support low-income families and we clearly need to do much more. Congress has the power to make this happen. Nakasalalay sa ating pagpapasya ang gagawing pagtugon ng pamahalaan para maprotektahan at matulungan ang ating mga mamamayan.

Some 6.6 million families, or about one in four, belong to the formal economy and can avail of their savings and other benefits from their places of work to survive. We ask the private sector to take care of their employees and their contractual staff during this difficult time, and many have responded generously. Hindi ko na sila iisa-isahin. Pero batid natin at ng ating mga mamamayan ang positibong pagtugon ng mga pribadong kumpanya, malaki man, katamtaman, o maliit, para ayudahan ang kanilang mga manggagawa, gayundin ang iba pang mga nahihirapang sektor.

The remaining 18 million families work in the informal economy, or are poor or near-poor. If they do not work, they have no income. "No work, no pay", "isang kahig isang tuka," ika nga. These are excruciatingly difficult times, especially for them, and we must do what we can to help. Hindi natin pababayaan ang ating mga kababayan.

The bill that I sponsor today proposes to raise enough money to support families for two months, so that each of these 18 millionhousehold gets between 5,000 to 8,000 pesos per month from various national government and local government programs, whether in cash or kind. The exact amount is determined in proportion to the minimum wage of their respective region. There is a chart that shows the details:


Daily min wage

Monthly minimum wage (26 days)

Subsidy amount





































































Among these 18 million families, 4.4 million households are current beneficiaries of the 4Ps or conditional cash transfer or CCT program. They receive, on average, around 2,150 pesos per month, so we will just top-up their subsidies to reach the proposed 5,000 to 8,000 pesos, depending on their region, so that they can avail of basic food, medicine, and toiletries. Ang dagdag na mga sabsidiyang ito para sa 4.4 milyong pamilya sa ilalim ng CCT ay magkakahalaga ng 15.5 bilyong piso bawat buwan.

The balance of 13.5 million non-CCT households will get 5,000 to 8,000 pesos in total also from various national and local government programs, so that they can avail of basic food, medicines, and toiletries. Ang ayuda naman sa 13.5 milyong mahihirap na pamilyang ito na wala sa CCT ay aabot sa 82 bilyon kada buwan.

The total Emergency Subsidy Program will require a total of 97.4 billion pesos per month, or roughly a little bit less than 200 billion pesos for 2 months for all households working in the informal sector, plus 5.1 billion of administrative cost.

Tulad nga ng aking nabanggit, ang ayudang ito ay maibabahiga sa pamilyang Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng national and local government social programs, both in cash and kind, lalo na para sa mga pangunahing pangangailangan tulad ng pagkain.

The cost is clearly significant but we have the cash available. What we do not have is the flexibility to use the available cash to beat this virus. This bill that I sponsor today will precisely do that.

In consultation with the economic managers, we will keep the 2020 spending program of 4.1 trillion pesos intact, and give the President the power, as needed, to move funds within the General Appropriations Act or GAA from non-essential to essential items that are required for fighting COVID-19.

Moreover, our accounting of the financial situation shows that we have some 175 billion pesos of available cash and its equivalent in various GOCC accounts. We also have some 100 billion pesos in various national government agencies' accounts outside the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The total amount available off-budget is about 275 billion pesos. This can be made available quickly to finance the Emergency Subsidy Program. This scheme will allow us to deliver emergency subsidy to the people without affecting our national government's fiscal position.

These actions can protect our people and ensure their survival.

Looking ahead, the economic team has assured us that they are crafting an economic stimulus plan. The additional public resources that we have identified will, for now, go directly to Filipino families. Wala pong ibang pupuntahan ang ayudang ito kundi direkta sa mga pamilyang pinaka-nangangailangan nito.

To get this done, we in the Senate and our counterparts in the House of Representatives must immediately enact special law to allow the President to move and reallocate funds to where they are most urgently needed and create new budget items for new programs, so that we can deliver emergency aid to our people without delay.

The proposed bill, among others, will accomplish the following:

First, it will authorize the President to reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation in the 2020 GAA as may be necessary and beneficial to fund measures that will respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including social amelioration for affected communities and the recovery and rehabilitation therefrom; and,

Second, allocate cash, funds, and investments held by any government-owned or controlled corporation (GOCC) or any national government agency as necessary to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Under the proposal, any unobligated amount, whether released or unreleased in the budget, shall be considered to have their purpose abandoned or fulfilled, as of the date of the declaration of the State of Emergency. The balance of these funds as of the effectivity of this Act will be appropriated as needed to address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including the recovery and rehabilitation therefrom.

Upon passage, the authority granted under this bill shall be effected for 3 months, unless extended by Congress. Bawat linggo, magsusumite ng report ang Pangulo sa Kongreso. Ito'y bahagi ng pagsisiguro sa transparency at pagkilala sa checks-and-balances.

Finally, the President shall be authorized to undertake such other measures as may be reasonable and necessary to enable the government to carry out the mandates of this proposal.

The proposal also carries other measures to ensure that the President can act swiftly to address the needs of our people in times of crisis.

The proposal empowers the President to continue to adopt and implement measures to prevent or minimize further transmission and spread of COVID-19 and to continue testing and observation of persons under monitoring and persons under investigation. We need to sustain these efforts.

In these extraordinary circumstances, where adherence to the national strategy is crucial to contain COVID-19, the proposal also authorizes the President to ensure that local governments adhere to the declared national policy and strategy, while allowing them to continue exercising their autonomy in matters undefined by the National Government.

The President shall also be authorized, when the public interest so requires, to temporarily direct the operations of certain facilities necessary to address the needs of the public during the COVID-19. Ang panukalang ito ay hindi bago o kakaibang konsepto. Atin itong inihahain alinsunod sa Article XII, SECTION 17 ng ating kasalukuyang Konstitusyon.

The President shall have the power to continue to protect the people from hoarding, profiteering, injurious speculation, manipulation of prices, product deceptions, as well as cartels and monopolies. This will ensure that our people are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals under strenuous market conditions. Nakalulungkot at nakakagalit isipin na sa gitna ng pagsasakripisyo ng lahat, ay may mga kababayan pa rin tayo na nakukuhang magsamantala sa kanilang kapwa Pilipino.

As time is of the essence in combating this disease, the President may also procure essential goods and services such as medical supplies, rented venues for quarantine centers, and other services needed by the public healthcare system during the health emergency as exceptions to the Procurement Law.

Other powers include extending credit to productive sectors of the economy, liberalizing the grant of incentives for the manufacture and importation of necessary goods and equipment, requiring businesses to prioritize and accept contracts for goods and services necessary to deal with the health emergency, regulating the operation of public and private transportation, regulating traffic on all roads, authorizing alternative work arrangements for employees in the Executive branch, and if necessary in the private sector, and regulating the use of our energy supply.

The best way to defeat this disease is to be ahead of it, and these powers will allow the President and our public health authorities to act as swiftly as they need to.

Fellow Senators of the Republic, these are extraordinarily trying times. This virus does not differentiate on party, creed, or wealth. It's an impersonal, invisible enemy. Without fear or favor, it infects, and without intervention, it moves very quickly. But I am confident that if we sustain and enhance the measures that we have taken, and if all of us do our part, we will be able to defeat this virus, together.

Health workers are manning the frontlines in this battle, some have sadly lost their lives. As was said in the past, never has so much been owed by so many to so few. We thank them for their selfless and courageous services. To our factory workers, truck drivers, storekeepers, and our peacekeepers, we send our deepest gratitude. To those who keep essential services running, the farmers, the fishermen, maraming salamat po. To the many heroes we see and are able to thank, and to the many other warriors who toil without rest or recognition, our collective efforts will not succeed without your invaluable work. Sa mayorya ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na yung mga nasa informal sector, sa mga tricycle driver, jeepney driver na nawalan ng pasada, sa mga vendors na nawalan ng mga suki, mga manggagawa, sa mga namamasukan sa arawan, batid namin ang lahat ng inyong sakripisyo, at lubos kaming nagpapasalamat sa inyong pag-unawa at pakikiisa sa ating pamahalaan.

Let us in the Senate do our duty to aid them in this time of great need, and may this country come out of this hour of challenge stronger, more compassionate, and more united.

We have the funds necessary to address COVID-19. What we do not have much of is time. By passing this bill, we give the administration the authority to access these funds and move quickly to save more lives. Panawagan ko ang suporta ng bawat isang miyembro ng Kapulungang ito. Let us pass this bill with urgency, Bayanihan to Heal as One.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

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