MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte's administration will call for a special session of Congress to tackle a fiscal stimulus package for the country's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement, citing information from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. Under the Constitution, the President may call for special sessions, usually held between regular legislative sessions, to handle emergencies or urgent matters.
"Magpapatawag po ng special session ngayon pong mukhang plantsado na 'yung magiging laman ng Bayanihan 2 legislation," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(A special session will be called now that matters concerning the Bayanihan 2 legislation have already been studied.)
The special session will be called before Duterte delivers his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27, Roque added.
The Senate adjourned session last month without final approval of the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, or Bayanihan 2, that would extend the validity of some provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, that granted President Duterte additional powers to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
In an interview with ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Roque added that Dominguez had informed him that the special session would be called soon.
"Nung huling pag-ulat ni Presidente sa taumbayan, nandun po si Secretary Dominguez at sinabi niya sa'kin halos plantsado na ‘yung Bayanihan 2 at magpapatawag na nga po ng special session," Roque told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(During the President's last report to the nation, Secretary Dominguez was there and he told me that everything was almost ready in terms of Bayanihan 2 and that a special session would be called soon.)
The government had spent P355 billion for its response to the pandemic as of June 24, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said, adding more funds were needed to address the crisis.
Of the amount, Avisado said P247.52 billion came from pooled savings while P96.7 billion came from unprogrammed appropriations.