MANILA - Malacañang appealed to Congress on Thursday to fast-track the passage of the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill to resuscitate the economy as the Philippines plunged into recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The economy shrunk by 16.5 percent in the second quarter plunging into recession, the first time in nearly 30 years, following one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The 16.5 percent contraction--which wiped out the gains from the administration of late President Cory Aquino to her son, former President Noynoy Aquino--was "much worse" than government economists expected, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said as he appealed to Congress to act quickly on the economic stimulus bill and the proposed corporate tax reform measure or Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.
"We reiterate the President’s call to Congress to fast track the passage of Bayanihan II, or the Bayanihan to Recover As One, which would boost our second-semester offensive against COVID-19; and the CREATE Act to help businesses recover and generate employment for our people," Roque said.
President Rodrigo Duterte first appealed to Congress for the speedy passage of the Bayanihan 2 bill during his fifth State of the Nation Address on July 27.
The Senate's version of the bill already hurdled final reading, while its counterpart in the House of Representatives was approved on second reading Wednesday.
Roque earlier said the economy cannot stand another lockdown after Duterte heeded the call of health workers for a "time out," reverting economic hubs Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal to the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18.
The Philippines was losing P19-20 billion a day when it imposed the strictest enhanced community quarantine measure in Luzon and other parts of the country over the last few months to stem the spread of the virus, according to Francis Lim, president of the Management Association of the Philippines.
Under MECQ, the daily economic loss amounts to at least P12 billion, he said.
Roque assured the nation that the government has a "strong" resolve to boost the economy's recovery.
"Our resolve to recover at the soonest possible, however, remains strong. Ingat buhay para sa hanapbuhay is our battlecry," he said.
"We assure everyone that the government will continue working round the clock to strengthen our resilience and bring us back to the path of inclusive growth," he added.
The Philippine economy is forecast to shrink by 5.5 percent this year, the Development Budget Coordination Committee which is in-charge of setting the government’s macroeconomic goals and policies, said Thursday following the deep contraction in the second quarter.
The DBCC revised its earlier 2020 GDP projection of between -2 and -3.4 percent due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, trade, and remittances, it said.