AS the nation’s legislative arm, the two-chamber Congress is the “first rampart of democracy” that makes sure the Filipinos’ mushrooming needs, like financial and food, are met.
Thus, it is certainly heartening to know that members of Congress are willing to hold a special session to approve the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act” or “Bayanihan 3.”
Note that the 24-member Senate and the House of Representatives, which is dominated by pro-Duterte administration district and party-list lawmakers, are on break until May 17.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, an opposition leader, had earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session of Congress for the swift passage of “Bayanihan 3.”
Likewise, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, an administration ally, said the Lower Chamber of Congress is willing to hold a special session to immediately pass the measure.
For his part, Senate President Vicente Sotto expressed openness to the idea “with the caveat that there should be enough fiscal space to cover the calls,” adding “a special session is OK if necessary.”
No less than Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, a former Special Assistant to the President, supports the holding of a special session “as long as the government has available funds.”
And the good news is that the government’s economic team is looking for a potential source of funds to finance the proposed multibillion-peso “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act.”
Go said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III are still “making a way to secure the funding for “Bayanihan 3.”
Under “Bayanihan 1,” the government realigned about P275 billion from the 2020 budget for pandemic response, while an additional P165.5 billion was earmarked for COVID-19 relief under “Bayanihan 2.”