MANILA (UPDATE) - Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said it would be ideal to extend the Bayanihan Act for another 3 months.
"I think the 3-month period is ideal. It is definitely necessary to give us 90 days and we’ll see from there if, at the end of 90 days, there is a need for emergency powers still, then it can be extended until December,” said Roque in an interview on ANC’s Headstart via Zoom.
The Bayanihan law granted President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers, such as the authority to realign items under the 2020 national budget, to respond to the pandemic. It was signed into law on March 25.
Under the Bayanihan Act, Duterte is required to send a weekly report to Congress to detail how he used public funds in line with efforts to counter the global pandemic.
Roque said the Bayanihan Act is needed especially since there is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19 yet.
“Extraordinary powers is something that is reserved for extraordinary circumstances. But the problem here with COVID is without the vaccine we’ll never go back to normal and it’s still extraordinary,” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said in an earlier interview that it is necessary to extend the Bayanihan law, which will expire on June 24.
But Roque said Congress would still be in session if the 90-day extension expires.
“They will still be in session when the emergency power ceases because they are still in session in September and they can give the emergency power anew if Malacanang would request,” he said.
“If it’s going to be extended, Malacanang would like to see that the sunset clause would be amended to provide for the extension on emergency powers conferred on the president,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed that the Bayanihan Act must be extended, as more families need aid amid the pandemic.
"Nu'ng ipinasa namin 'yung Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, iniisip namin du'n na sa loob ng 2 [buwan], maximum na 3, mase-set up na 'yung mga kailangan, mga dapat gastusin magagastos na," Sotto told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
"Hindi kakayanin matapos ng June 24, lalo na nagdagdag ang gobyerno ng 5 million families sa aid dahil ang middle-income families ay kinakapos din, so kailangan namin i-extend 'to."
As of May 26, the Philippines has recorded 14,669 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 886 deaths and 3,412 recoveries.