Digital payments bill gets approval on 2nd reading

THE House of Representatives on Monday approved on second reading a bill promoting the use of digital payments for financial transactions in the country. Through viva voce voting, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) 8992 or the “Promotion of Digital Payments” Act.

Bataan Rep. Jose Enrique S. Garcia III, sponsor of HB 8992, said there are currently around 30 electronic money issuers in the Philippines.

Garcia said the bill would still allow the use of cash in financial transactions involving government agencies and digital payments will serve as an additional option for these transactions. The bill mandates the use of “safe and efficient” digital or electronic mode of payments by all national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and local government units (LGUs) in the collection of payment of taxes, fees, tolls, imposts and other revenues. This form of payment would also be accepted in the payment of goods, services and other disbursements.

Under the bill, government entities adopting digital payments shall be provided in their respective budgets the amount necessary to cover the cost of establishing and maintaining the infrastructure, system and process adjustments, as well as transaction fees incurred in connection with the implementation of digital payments, such as merchant discount rate, processing fees, cash-out fees and administrative fees. It seeks to mandate NGAs, GOCCs, and LGUs to adopt account-based disbursements, where recipients directly receive government payments into their bank or digital accounts.

Medical reserve

LAWMAKERS also passed on second reading last Monday the measure creating the Medical Reserve Corps.

House Bill 8999 (the “Medical Reserve Corps” Act) seeks to organize a group of trained and equipped medical and health-related personnel for rapid mobilization during national or local public health emergencies, which require manpower support to reinforce and strengthen the existing capabilities of the national agencies or local government units (LGUS).

Under the bill, Medical Reserve Corps shall be under the Department of Health and shall composed of persons who are licensed physicians, medical students who have completed their four years of medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals who may be called upon to assist the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and the LGUs in the discharge of their functions in addressing the medical needs of the public.

The bill grants the President of the Philippines the power to mobilize the MRC nationwide in case of a declaration of a state of war, state of lawless violence or state of calamity.

The measure also enlists the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide expertise on the organization of the MRC for efficient, effective and swift deployment.

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