President unlikely to call for special Congress session to pass Bayanihan 2 law – Palace

Published July 15, 2020, 12:26 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is unlikely to ask Congress to convene a special session to facilitate the passage of the proposed Bayanihan 2 law, Malacañang said Tuesday. 

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the proposed legislation that includes the P140-billion stimulus program will likely be discussed during the opening of the second regular session of Congress later this month.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Congress is set to resume session on July 27, which coincides with President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“I don’t think we will be calling for a special session because Congress will be reopening in a matter of two weeks anyway. So it could be discussed already in the second regular session of the 18th Congress,” Roque said over ANC’s Headstart Wednesday.

Roque said the proposed Bayanihan 2 measure will include funding allocation for various pandemic response programs from the government’s expanded testing to contact tracing efforts.  The subsidy proposal, he earlier said, includes P10-billion for testing efforts,  P15 billion for cash-for-work program and possibly for the hiring of contact tracers, and  P17-billion subsidy to support the transportation sector affected by the pandemic.

The second Bayanihan bill also proposes other measures intended to revive the country’s economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.   The measure will include the extension of the President’s authority to enhance the government’s response to the pandemic, including subsidy for low income families and other affected sectors as well as the procurement of medical supplies.

Last week, the Palace announced that the proposed stimulus package has been finalized by the executive branch and lawmakers. Roque initially said a special session of Congress may be called but later raised second thoughts about the move due to the imminent resumption of its session.

Republic Act No. 11469,  the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave the President’s additional power to combat the pandemic, expired last June 25.

Roque had earlier said the President will still need the extension of his emergency powers to effectively contain the pandemic outbreak and protect public health.