MANILA – Congress is scheduled to hold a special session on Monday to deliberate on the government’s request to approve a supplemental budget that will be allocated to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Senator Christopher Lawrence Go announced on Saturday.
This developed after President Rodrigo Duterte asked the lawmakers to hold a special session as soon as possible.
In a press statement, Go said the Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed to meet on Monday morning for a special session.
“It has been agreed that the Special Session shall be held on March 23, Monday at 10 a.m. Both Houses of Congress through the Senate President and the House Speaker have expressed their readiness and have committed to work fast in order to pass the necessary measures immediately given the urgency of the matter,” he said.
Prior to the conduct of a special session, some Cabinet officials met with Congress leaders on Saturday to discuss how they can work together to boost the ongoing efforts in fighting Covid-19, Go said.
Go said the executive branch is set to immediately transmit to Congress a proposed measure that seeks to strengthen the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A proposed measure from the executive branch will be provided to the legislators immediately. The proposed bill aims to further empower and give the government the flexibility it needs to address the present health emergency,” he said.
Go said the proposed measure aims to give Duterte the authority “to do what may be deemed necessary to fund measures to address and respond to the Covid-19 health emergency, including recovery and rehabilitation.”
“More importantly, it will give flexibility for needed realignments in the budget of concerned agencies so that they can prioritize the provision of immediate healthcare needs, as well as food and cash assistance to affected Filipinos, particularly those belonging to vulnerable sectors,” he said.
The Health department earlier appealed to Congress to approve the PHP2-billion supplemental budget for Covid-19.
Pending Congress’ approval, Duterte on Monday placed the entire Philippines under a state of calamity for six months to allow the government to tap more funds that will be used to stop the further spread of Covid-19.
As of Saturday, the Philippines has 307 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 19 deaths and 13 cases of recovery. (PNA)