A House committee approved on Tuesday three crucial bills to help ease the adverse effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on the economy and workers.

The Defeat Covid-19 Ad-Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives adopted three substitute bills to the  “Philippine Economic Stimulus Act” (PESA), “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act” (FIST), and the “Covid-19 Related Anti-Discrimination Act.”

PESA is “a stimulus program that seeks to restore the country’s economic growth, maintain employment levels, and expand the country’s productive capacity,” the House said in a press release.

It recommended a budget of P568 billion in 2020 and P730 billion next year to jumpstart the “Enhanced Build-Build-Build Program” that will boost government infrastructure projects.

Also adopted was the FIST Bill, which pushes for the creation of Foreign Institutions Strategic Transfer Corporations whose mandate includes the general management of non-performing assets (NPAs) of financial institutions (FIs), restructuring and condonation of debts related to non-performing loans, and the renovation of NPAs acquired from FIs.

This bill, which recognizes the critical role of banks and FIs in providing liquidity during the pandemic, seeks to address the expected increase in NPAs due to delayed loan collections.

The proposed “Covid-19 Related Anti-Discrimination Act” makes it unlawful for any individual, natural or juridical, to discriminate against confirmed, suspected, or probable Covid-19 cases as well as health workers, medical responders, service workers and repatriated overseas Filipino workers.

The bill imposes a penalty of imprisonment of one to 10 years, and/or a fine of at least P200,000 to P1 million. (Jojo Mangahis)