THE House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading two measures in response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
House Bill (HB) 6817 or “Covid-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act” was approved by 204 lawmakers with one abstention.
The measure prohibits discrimination against individuals with confirmed, probable, and suspected Covid-19, repatriated Filipinos, healthcare workers, responders, and service workers.
The bill comes amid reports of Covid-related discrimination and harassment at during the pandemic.
Under the measure, discriminatory practices include failure to give assistance; verbal, physical, and psychological harassment, threat, or assault; stigmatization in social media and other information platforms; and unlawful refusal to honor valid and existing contracts against individuals.
The bill penalizes offenders with 1 to 10 years of imprisonment or a fine of P200,000 to P1 million.
Also passed on 3rd and final reading was HB 6816 or the “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Law,” with 202 voting for its approval, 6 against and an abstention.
The measure seeks to assist financial institutions in their bad debt resolution and management of their non-performing assets (NPAs) “in order to cushion the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic on their financial operations.”
The bill aims to help financial institutions offload NPAs as they face a period of delayed loan collections due to the pandemic and the disruption of economic activities. As defined in the bill, NPAs include non-performing loans (NPLs) and real and other properties acquired (ROPAs) in settlement of loans and receivables.
To respond to the projected rise of NPAs, the bill encourages financial institutions to sell NPAs to asset management companies, created as FIST Corporations that specialize in the resolution of distressed assets.
Meanwhile, the House also approved on second reading a substitute of HB 6920 or the “Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020,” which seeks to boost infrastructure building at the barangay level for health, education, agriculture, livelihood in the countryside to generate jobs.
It seeks to allocate P1.5 trillion for countryside infrastructure to generate millions of jobs after about 2.76 million workers lost their jobs due to closure of 102,000 establishments because of the nationwide lockdown.
The measure prioritizes construction or improvement of barangay municipal health centers; expansion of school buildings to decongest classrooms, technical vocational learning centers, and establishment of digital education in the public educational system; repair or improvement of municipal provincial fish ports, trading centers; and local roads and livelihood projects such as farm to market roads.