The House Committee on Appropriations on Friday approved the proposed P405.6-billion Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, or Bayanihan 3.The Bayanihan 3 under House Bill 8628, however, hurdled committee-level approval sans certification of availability funds from the Bureau of Treasury (BTr). But House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, one of the principal authors of the bill, defended the constitutionality of measure.“Bayanihan 3 already meets the constitutional requirement that the proposal be supported by funds to be raised by revenue proposed in the same bill. The question of presentation of certification of availability of funds is ‘superfluous’ because the proposal meets the condition that a special appropriations bill be supported by funds…to be raised by corresponding revenue proposed therein. In fact, Sections 34, 35, and 36 of the proposal identify sources for funding the measure,” he explained.During committee hearing, Treasury Director Dominick Mariano said the BTr is ready to issue a certification after finding excess revenues and new revenue sources.“We are ready to certify the availability of funds, specially as pertains to excess revenues. Although, we should also note that we are in the middle of financing the budgetary requirements of this year. Given that we are still looking to revenue performance compared to the disbursement schedule we have for the year,” said Mariano.A certification of available funds from the BTr is a constitutional requirement. Under Section 25 (4) of the 1987 Constitution, a special appropriations bill shall specify the purpose for which it is intended, and shall be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer, or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposed therein.“[However] we can only certify if there’s any excess revenues or if there is corresponding new revenue sources. We are also looking at the fiscal sustainability of the measure and we are maintaining a certain threshold of the deficit and not incurring any—or further adding—to our debt burden,” Mariano told lawmakers.The Bayanihan 3 provides revenue provision in Section 34, which states that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) would be authorized to make additional direct provisional advances with or without interest to the national government. These direct advances would be used to finance expenditures, which are authorized by law, to address and respond to the Covid-19 situation in the country.Section 35 of the bill would also mandate some government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) recommended by the Joint Executive-Legislative Bayanihan Council to increase their dividend remittances to help fund the appropriations of the proposed measure.Salceda also said other sources of revenue include the capital withdrawal from “obese” GOCCs, e-sabong and Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations taxes.In comments after his defense in the panel, Salceda said that Bayanihan 3 introduces innovative methods of helping the poor and “building a stronger market-assisted social welfare state.”“We are introducing, for the first time in Philippine policy if enacted, the concept of Universal Basic Income. P1,000 per Filipino, no ifs or buts. It avoids politicization. The rich can freely return it if they want; after all, there are very few rich people in this country. Almost everybody is hurting,” Salceda pointed out.Salceda also said that “as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations,” he was not presented by the Executive with arguments requiring the full availability of P46.4 billion to fund Republic Act 9358, or the supplemental budget of 2006.The supplemental budget included items such as relief for the Guimaras oil spill, aid for those affected by the Mayon eruption, and various other items not covered by the reenacted budget of the same year.“The underlying assumption was that because there was a reenacted budget for the same year, the supplemental budget would be funded with proceeds from regular borrowing operations of the government and would cover the funding deficiencies of the government in the event that the 2006 national budget is unacted upon by Congress,” Salceda said.“My submission, based on my experience as former appropriations chair, is that Bayanihan 3 already complies with the constitutional condition for special appropriations bills, and can thus be approved by the House,” he added.Salceda added that the Bayanihan 3 is more fiscally responsible than past supplemental funding measures.“In fact, the proposal works harder to meet the fiscal costs of new spending one-to-one that the 2006 supplemental appropriations, as it at the very least attempts to be as close to deficit neutral as possible,” he pointed out.The House tax chair, however, emphasized the need to keep an eye on the country’s finances.“I reiterate the need for continued fiscal vigilance as the Philippines is already at the front end of the pack for deficit spending in Southeast Asia. Although we can accommodate some expansion in deficit spending coming from a low pre-pandemic debt stock [with an all-time low of 39.6 percent of GDP in 2019], deficit spending should not be a substitute for full recovery through an effective national vaccination strategy and a safe reopening of the economy,” he said.Meanwhile, House Committee on Economic Affairs Chairman Sharon Garin said the bill’s committee report would get her committee’s final approval on Monday.After the panel approval, she said, the bill would be immediately endorsed for plenary for another round of deliberations.The lower chamber is eyeing to approve the Bayanihan 3 before its sine die adjournment on June 3.The P405.6-billion Bayanihan 3 is divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 would amount to P167 billion, Phase 2 with P196 billion and Phase 3 with P42.6 billion.Under the substitute bill, P108 billion would be allocated for the implementation of a cash subsidy program of P1,000 for every Filipino under Phase 1, with another P108 billion in standby funds under Phase 2.Also, around P12 billion shall be appropriated for assistance for households in crisis situations under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). A P12-billion standby fund shall be appropriated for Phase 2 and P6-billion standby fund for Phase 3 of the AICS program.The Small Business Wage Subsidy program shall be continued and expanded with a direct funding of P8 billion, and stand-by funds worth P8 billion for Phase 2 and P4 billion for Phase 3 to assist micro, small and medium enterprises.To provide temporary employment to displaced workers, around P10 billion shall be appropriated for the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers, Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program, and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong Program, while P10 billion shall be appropriated as stand-by funds for Phase 2 and P5 billion for Phase 3.Assistance to the agri-fishery sector will receive a total of P30 billion worth of standby funds to finance programs and interventions toward food security and farmer income security and welfare.The bill also allocates P3 billion for medical assistance to indigent patients, and standby funds worth P3 billion each for Phases 2 and 3.A total of P54.6 billion shall be allocated to the Pension and Gratuity Fund for retired military and the policemen, while P5.6 billion shall be appropriated to assist the Department of Education in the implementation of its digital education, information technology, and digital infrastructure and alternative learning modalities as part of pandemic response and transition to a new normal.Standby funds worth P5 billion each shall be allocated for the implementation of the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act and Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, both of which are intended at providing national nutrition.