MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to ask Congress to hold a special session to tackle the passage of the so-called “Bayanihan 2,” a bill that contains a stimulus package for the country’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said Thursday.
This developed after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III confirmed that Duterte’s economic team was able to thresh out issues concerning the economic stimulus package, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
“Narinig ko kay Secretary Dominguez na more or less, plantsado na nila. At first time din na kinumpirma niya na hihingi tayo ng special session sa Kongreso (I heard Secretary Dominguez say that more or less, they have ironed out [the details of the stimulus package]. It’s also the first time he confirmed that we would ask Congress for a special session),” Roque said.
Roque’s latest statement came after he said on Tuesday that there was no need to rush the passage of a supplement measure to Republic Act (RA) 11468 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which already expired on June 25.
He also said Duterte has no plan yet to call for a special session for both the Senate and the House of Representatives since the discussions on the proposed Bayanihan 2 can be done during the opening of Congress’ second regular session.
Roque said lawmakers should begin conducting a special session before Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.
“It will have to be before SONA dahil kung after SONA, regular session na po siya (because if it is conducted after SONA, this will [no longer be a special session but just a] regular session),” Roque said.
Duterte, through RA 11469, was granted 31 emergency powers to address the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have already drafted different versions of a bill replacing RA 11469 to extend Duterte’s temporary special powers for another three months.
However, the executive department is pushing for a law that is different from the proposed Senate and House measures.
The proposed measure being pushed by the executive branch limits the cost of the stimulus package to only PHP140 billion.
On June 27, Duterte expressed optimism that his administration would get Congress’ support anew to ensure the country’s quick recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Duterte made the remarks as he lauded Congress for its contribution to the passage of RA 11469, which enabled his administration to implement “timely” emergency measures to mitigate the adverse impact of Covid-19.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a petition challenging the constitutionality of RA 11468 that gave Duterte temporary powers to boost the country’s Covid-19 response efforts.
The SC en banc dismissed the petition filed by former Laguna State Polytechnic University dean Jaime Ibañez “as it failed to show grave abuse of discretion committed by its respondents.”
Roque said the Palace welcomed the SC’s ruling.
“Nagagalak po kami at sinuportahan po ng hudikatura itong sagot ng ehekutibo at Kongreso laban po dito sa banta ng Covid-19 (We are elated that the judiciary supported the executive department and Congress in the fight against Covid-19),” he said. (PNA)