As the reported scrapping of the planned special session of Congress became certain, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday called for an “unprecedented cooperation” between the executive and the legislative department to pass the much-needed “We Recover as One Law” or the Bayanihan 2, and the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act when regular session resumes.
“We will need unprecedented cooperation after the SONA (State of the Nation Address) especially for the 2021 budget,” he told reporters.
Cayetano revealed that “disagreements” have prompted the apparent decision to discontinue with the planned special session that was supposed to take up the Bayanihan 2 measure.
He stressed that Congress was very much willing to hold one. This position of the Lower House was relayed to the executive department when Malacanang hinted it will call Congress to a special session.
“I, for one, want a P250 [billion] to P500 billion anti-COVID fund na lump sum para merong flexibility ang gobyerno (as a lump sum so that there is flexibility for the government),” Cayetano said.
He explained that the amount will readily finance the country’s procurement of an anti-COVID-19 vaccine should it be made available in the market by next year.
If no vaccine is successfully developed and sold in the market, then the money will be re-allocated to finance livelihood programs for Filipinos severely affected by the impact of the COVID 19 crisis, he explained.
According to Cayetano, the 2021 allocation may also be spent to finance programs of the Department of Agriculture to help farmers.
The Lower House will start working on the proposed national appropriations after the SONA.
The legislative chamber is also expected to prioritize the Bayanihan 2 measure as part of the economic recovery program.