President Rodrigo Duterte will call for a special session in order to pass the proposed stimulus package for COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, the Palace said on Thursday.
Malacanang spokesperson Harry Roque said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told him that the Executive branch would ask the Senate and House of Representatives to convene in a special session after the details of the stimulus package have been ironed out.
“Importante naman talaga na ma-renew o ma-extend po yang Bayanihan dahil napakadami pong mga benepisyo gaya ng sa health workers na natigil nung napaso na po itong Bayanihan Act,” Roque said in a radio interview.
Roque had said the government could only afford a stimulus package worth P140 billion, which is similar to the Senate’s proposal.
Roque likewise said the government wanted new funding for testing subsidies and hiring of 50,000 contact tracers.
Congress adjourned session last month without passing the bill seeking to extend the validity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave Duterte special powers for three months to effectively tackle the COVID-19 crisis. The law expired on June 25.
Last week, Duterte told the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) that he would ask Congress to pass measures to boost the Philippines’ response to the pandemic.
Duterte called for the institutionalization of national preparedness and response mechanisms for pandemics and other hazards such as the creation of a medical reserve corps and stockpile of strategic and critical materials.
He also said the Philippines must amend the decades-old Labor Code, strengthen its social protection system and update its economic regulations in view of the advances in the digital economy./Stacy Ang