Sotto to Palace: Discuss Bayanihan 2 details before special session to save time

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 09:45 PM

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III leads the resumption of the Senate's hybrid session on May 26, 2020. Senate Prib/file

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said he has asked Palace officials to "sit down" with Congress leaders before calling for a special session to pass the second part of the Bayanihan Act so that they would not "waste each other's time."

The Senate failed to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill on third reading after the executive department refused to certify it as urgent after lawmakers included a P140-billion standby fund.

"When i was talking with the Executive Secretary, I suggested to him that if they will ask for special session, we will sit down muna," Sotto said, referring to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

"Ang suggestion ko is we sit down first, find out what we can agree on so that we don't waste each other's time," he said.

The executive branch is eyeing a special session but there is "nothing concrete" yet based on discussions, Sotto said.

Congress is currently on a 2-month break before it opens its second regular session on July 27, when President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address.

Under the law, both legislative chambers are not allowed to hold sessions 30 days before the president's SONA.

But Sotto said that there is also a provision that allows the President to "call a special session any time."

"'Pag nagpatawag siya ng special session kahit na naka sine die kami we will not be violating the Constitution," the Senate President said.

As of June 30, the Senate Committee on Finance has received a document containing the executive branch's proposed amendments to the Bayanihan 2 bill, Sotto said.