Congress is willing to hold a special session if President Rodrigo Duterte calls for it to ensure the timely passage of bills on financial aid for those affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco gave the assurance Tuesday following the appeal of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for the President to call for a special session.
Congress went on break on March 27 and will resume session on May 17.
Velasco’s Bayanihan 3 that proposes a P420-billion fund to stimulate the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is among the measures pending at the chamber.
According to Velasco, his bill and similar measures are currently being reviewed by the House committees on economic affairs and social services.
“By the time the measures are finished at the committee level, we would have resumed session in May,” Velasco said.
“However, if Malacanang certifies the bill as urgent, we will comply,” he added.
The House leader filed the measure in February after the passage of the bill extending the validity of Bayanihan 2, and upon seeing further need to allocate additional funds to help the nation cope with the pandemic.
To date, 224 members from the supermajority, minority and independent blocs in the House of Representatives have signed either as principal authors or co-authors of the measure.
House Bill 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act” seeks to allocate P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households, P100 billion for capacity-building for impacted sectors, P52 billion for wage subsidies, P70 billion for wage subsidies, P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers, P30 billion for internet allowances to students and teachers, P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers, P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines, and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas impacted by recent floods and typhoons.
Under the measure, each household member will receive P1,000 regardless of their economic status. On top of this, a P1,000 allowance will be provided to each student and teacher, and P8,000 for every displaced worker.
Meanwhile, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said the benefits granted to frontline health workers under the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) will remain even after the law expires on June 30.
Angara, who shepherded Bayanihan 2 as the chairman of the Committee on Finance, said the law is clear that the benefits to frontline health workers, including the compensation for those who contract COVID-19 while in the line of duty, will continue to be granted for as long as the state of national emergency as declared by the President remains.
“Let us take good care of our healthcare workers. If we lose them, then the country’s response to this pandemic will truly collapse. Talo ang lahat.”
Under Bayanihan 2, health workers who fall ill due to COVID-19 while in the line of duty will each receive compensation amounting to P15,000 for mild/moderate cases and P100,000 for severe/critical cases.
In case of death, the family of the health worker will receive P1 million.