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Palace studying special session of Congress to pass COVID-19 measures

Malacañang on Monday said it was studying the possibility of calling for a special session of Congress in order to pass key COVID-19 response and recovery interventions that will be implemented in the coming months.

“I’m sure po pinag-aaralan na po 'yang opsyon na ‘yan dahil hindi nga po umabot ‘yun ngang stimulus package tsaka ‘yung extension ng Bayanihan 2,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.

Section 15, Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the President “may call a special session at any time.”

The 18th Congress adjourned its first regular session on June 5 without passing the proposed measure that will succeed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Senators managed to pass on second reading Senate Bill 1564, which provides a P140-billion package to prop up the economy and boost COVID-19 testing efforts and healthcare services. The bill stated that the interventions must be implemented by the government until September 30, 2020.

A certificate of urgency on the bill from President Rodrigo Duterte would have allowed Congress to skip the three-day rule and pass the measure on third reading immediately after it is passed on second reading.

However, the Palace decided not to certify the proposal as urgent for now as it maintained that the Bayanihan law would still be in effect until June 25. Senators argued that the law had already expired on June 5 when Congress adjourned.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, approved on final reading the proposed P1.3-trillion stimulus package to address the economic impact of COVID-19.

“Ang importante po ay magkaroon ng isang stimulus bill na suportado ng parehong houses of Congress. Iyan po ang inaayos ngayon,” Roque said.—AOL, GMA News