President Rodrigo Duterte has called on Congress to hold special sessions from October 13 to 16 to assure the approval of the proposed 2021 national budget.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea made an official communication to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday informing him of Duterte issuing Proclamation 1027 for the purpose of resuming Congress’ sessions so the proposed 2021 budget could be acted upon without delay.

“We are transmitting Presidential Proclamation No. 1207, calling for a special session in order to resume the congressional deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget and to avoid any further delays on the prompt passage thereof, pursuant to the provisions of Section 15, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.”

Also, Midialdea issued a communication to Sotto officially transmitting to the Senate House Bill 7727, or the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which is the proposed 2021 budget worth P4.56 trillion.

Duterte’s ordering Congress to a special sessions comes a day after he threatened to resolve the row over the House Speakership between Speaker Alan Peter Cayeteno and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Cayetano and Velasco immediately supported Duterte’s call for a special session.

“[W]e welcome President Duterte’s call for a Special Session of Congress… We trust his wisdom on how to address issues concerning the budget, and thank him for his continued confidence by allowing Congress to pass the General Appropriations Bill free from the specter of politicking and intrigues that we had originally sought to avoid,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.

“This is what the majority of us in the House of Representatives have been telling Speaker Cayetano and his small group of loyalists since the unceremonious termination of the budget plenary debates and the highly questionable and unconstitutional suspension of session,” Velasco said in a statement.

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Jose Maria “Joey” Salceda said the special session ordered by Duterte would give the House time to approved the proposed 2021 budget on third reading. He added the President sees the 2021 budget as a vital economic stimulus.

The proposed 2021 budget amounts to P4.56 trillion and was crafted primarily to revive the Philippine economy that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s approved budget is P4.1 trillion.

“He (Duterte) wants it passed without delay, and rightly so, because we cannot afford to delay the most important economic stimulus measure, the 2021 budget,” Salceda said.

The minority bloc also expressed its support to fast-track the deliberations to approve the proposed 2021 budget.

It said in a statement that it supports the approval of the GAB “to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our economy, and to provide aid for our people in these challenging times.”

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