President Rodrigo Duterte should call for a special session in order for Congress to start tackling the proposed law that seeks to curb the staggering unemployment rate in the Philippines brought about by the harsh impact of the COVID-19 to the economy.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday, April 6, said it is high time the Congress starts immediate discussions on the proposed Bayanihan to Arise As One Act or Bayanihan 3 in light of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed by the government to control the sudden uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“Kung kailangang tumawag ng special session para maipasa ang bagong budget para sa ayuda, handa naman kami sa Senado na talakayin ito para naman sa ating mga naghihirap na kababayan (If there is a need to call for a special session to pass this new budget for financial assistance, we in the Senate are ready to tackle this for the sake of our poor fellow men),” Drilon said in an interview over radio DZRH.
“Marami na namang nawalan ng trabaho dahilan sa ECQ. Yung Bayanihan 3 para magkaroon ng karagdagang budget para matugunan itong milyun-milyong nawalan ng trabaho, o 4.5 million unemployed in 2020 (So many people lost their jobs because of the ECQ. The Bayanihan 3 seeks additional budget to respond to the needs of the millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs or the 4.5 million unemployed persons in 2020),” he said.
Drilon said the government has sufficient sources of funds like the intelligence funds lodged in different executive agencies and the anti-insurgency fund.
The minority leader has repeatedly called on state officials to use the P19-billion fund allocated for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to boost the government’s COVID-19 response.
“Kailangan tugunan ito, maraming intelligence fund, anti-insurgency fund. Sa akin, kailangan tumawag ng special session ang Pangulo para matugunan ito. Mag-realign ng mga items na hindi kailangan (We need to respond to this, we have so much intelligence fund, anti-insurgency fund. For me, I believe the President should call for a special session to resolve this. We need to realign items that are not needed),” Drilon said.
Congress, he said, has given the Presidential sufficient powers to realign the budget under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law to address specific needs for the anti-COVID-19 program.
“Handa kami sa Senado na bumalik sa session para pagdebatehan itong batas na magbibigay ayuda para sa ating mga kababayan (We, in the Senate, are ready to return to session to debate on this measure that would provide financial assistance to our citizens),” he stressed.
In the Senate, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has filed the Bayanihan to Rebuild As One Act or Senate Bill No. 1953, which aims to provide P485-billion funding to help the country bounce back from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go filed a similar bill.
In the House of Representatives, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco proposed a P420-billion Bayanihan 3 law or “Bayanihan to Arise as One Act “ or House Bill No. 8628, which garnered the support of 115 members of major political parties and blocs.