Duterte to seek swift passage of supplemental budget for gov’t response to COVID-19

Published March 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte will seek the swift passage of a supplemental budget to enhance government efforts in curbing the spread of the new coronavirus, a Palace official said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President will ask the two houses of Congress to convene a special session to pass the additional funds for the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Kaya nga magpapatawag ng special session ang Presidente para ‘yung P1.6 billion na budget e maipasa na (The President will call for a special session for the passage of the P1.6 billion budget),” he said over ANC/DZMM Thursday night.

“Maraming gagawin ngayon ang Kongreso kaugnay dito. Dahil seryosong-seryoso ang Presidente na kailangan sirain na natin itong virus na ito (Congress has a lot to do now about this because the President is serious about destroying this virus),” he added.

Earlier, Senate President Tito Sotto revealed that the President will call for a special session to pass the budget needed for the assurance of people affected by the Luzon-wide lockdown.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go also confirmed the President wanted the special session to be held immediately. The special session may be held either on Saturday or Monday next week.

“The priority is to ensure that additional funds can be allocated for immediate healthcare needs and for much-needed financial and food assistance to Filipinos, particularly the vulnerable sectors, daily wage earners, and informal economy workers affected by the strict quarantine measures being imposed,” Go said.

The President sought the additional budget as the government implemented an enhanced community quarantine over Luzon.

The region-wide quarantine, authorized by the President, includes strict home quarantine, suspension of public transport, ban on mass gatherings, and land, air, and sea travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It will remain in effect until April 14.

“Let us make no mistake. We are in the fight for our lives. We are at war against a vicious and invisible enemy, one that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In this extraordinary war, we are all soldiers,” Duterte said.

“We all have a responsibility to fight this disease and prevent it from spreading to our fellowmen. These social distancing measures are necessary to kill the adversary.”