By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang is now studying whether President Duterte will call for a special session of Congress to facilitate the passage of measures needed for the coronavirus response.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Congress adjourned its regular session sine die last week without passing certain coronavirus-related measures last week.
Roque recognized that it was important to pass an economic stimulus bill to propel the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
“Well, I’m sure po pinag-aaralan na po iyang option na iyan dahil hindi nga po umabot iyong stimulus package at saka iyong extension ng Bayanihan (I’m sure that option is being studied because the stimulus package and the extension of Bayanihan law were not passed),” he said in a televised press briefing about the possibility of calling fo a special session of Congress.
Roque also said there was “no urgency” to pass a new law replacing the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act since it remains in effect until June 25. He noted that the special powers allowed under the Bayanihan law have already been exercised by the President.
Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan law, which grants the President additional powers to respond to the crisis, was signed into law last March 24, and published on the newspapers the next day.
“Ito po ay governed ng (It is governed by the) sunset clause of the law. Section 9 po ng RA 11469 ang nagsabi ay (states that) ‘This Act takes effect immediately upon its publication in a newspaper of general circulation or in the Official Gazette and is in full force and effect only for 3 months unless extended by Congress,’” he said.
Last week, the Palace announced that the President would not certify as urgent the proposed Bayanihan 2 for now.
The lack of urgent certification prevented the Senate from passing the Senate Bill No. 1546 or the Bayanihan We Recover as One bill, that included a P140-billion aid program for affected sectors until September 30 this year, on third and final reading. When a bill is certified as urgent, Congress may skip the three-day rule between second and third reading go bills.
Congress is set to open its second regular session next month.