MANILA – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday supported the call for a special session to pass measures granting a supplemental budget for the government to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Cayetano said the House of Representatives is ready should President Rodrigo Duterte call for an emergency session.
“We are willing to have special sessions to come up with a feasible and pragmatic economic package. We can adapt special rules like online voting if necessary, and practice social distancing measures to accommodate all our members, including those who are currently in self-quarantine,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano made the statement after Senate President Vicente Sotto III pushed for the holding of a special session of Congress to address the “looming public order and financial crisis” brought about by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
“I suggest for Congress to pass a food subsidy budget in order to provide for the daily wage earners who lost their income,” Sotto said.
Sotto said the proposed PHP300 subsidy for every family each day for 30 days in the National Capital Region will amount to about PHP27 billion.
Cayetano said the legislature should also prioritize the passage of a measure that will grant more flexibility in the utilization of government funds in the implementation of vital programs, especially to provide immediate support to the severely affected sectors, and the most vulnerable population.
The House of Representatives is also proposing a measure that will finance a comprehensive economic stimulus package to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, specifically to the tourism and informal sectors, as well as to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“We have started discussions with our colleagues in Congress and the Executive on how to operationalize short- and medium-term economic programs and reduce bureaucratic procedures to help those who are going to be adversely affected by Covid-19,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said House members have expressed their appreciation and support to the President’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Rest assured that the members of the House of Representatives are more than willing to cooperate and further assist the Executive Branch of government to help our people to overcome this crisis,” he said.
The House appropriations committee approved a bill seeking a PHP1.65-billion supplemental budget for the Department of Health (DOH) to address the Covid-19 threat.
However, it has yet to reach plenary deliberations after Congress adjourned its session last week for a month-long recess. (PNA)