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Senate adjourns session without passing Bayanihan Law 2 on 3rd reading

The Senate adjourned its first regular session on Thursday afternoon without passing the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Senate Bill No. 1564, which features P140 billion-worth of economic recovery interventions in the country, passed the second reading on Wednesday but still needed to be certified as urgent by Malacañang to be approved on third reading before the sine die adjournment.

Senator Sonny Angara, sponsor of the bill, confirmed that the executive branch did not certify it as urgent.

During an interview before the session adjourned, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the members of the Senate are still awaiting the certification to tackle the bill for the final reading.

"Ayon sa Saligang Batas kung walang certification na urgent ang bill susunod kami sa three-day rule, kung saan between second and third reading maghihintay kami tatlong araw. Since napasa namin ito kagabi, bibilang tayo tatlong araw. Paano kami bibilang ng tatlong araw e mag-a-adjourn na kami ngayon? So hinihintay amin as we speak ang certification as urgent," he told reporters.

"Binigay namin ang kopya ng aming version as approved on second reading. Pag okay sa kanila 'yan, expect namin mag-issue ng certification. Since hanggang ngayon di naman bumabalik at walang certification, I can assume hindi na sila interesado kung ganyan mangyayari," he added.

Lacson acknowledged that the executive branch is being very careful about the proposed measure because it entails budget.

"Inuunawa namin ang executive branch particularly DOF [Department of Finance] na dapat tingnan nilang mabuti. Sila nakakaalam ano fiscal situation ng ating bansa," he added.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has yet to respond to queries why the Palace decided not to support the speedy approval of the second Bayanihan Law, which outlines P140 billion-worth of economic recovery interventions that should be carried out by the government in the next three months.

The House of Representatives also approved its version of the bill on first reading on Wednesday.

The existing Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, on the other hand, will expire on Friday.

"If the constitution is interpreted strictly where it says that emergency powers cease upon the next adjournment of Congress (both House and Senate), then yes it would expire," Angara said.

What happens next

"Mawawala emergency powers. Lahat na provision sa Bayanihan to Heal as One Act balewala na 'yan, kasi timebound 'yan," Lacson said.

"So, kung di mapapasa ito (Bayanihan Law 2), ang mga kababayan natin na di nakakatanggap ng tulong, maasahan na lang nila kung anong ibibigay ng executive branch na available pero di na sila mama-mandate ng batas magbigay ng ayuda," he added.

Lacson explained that the President can still call for a special session, if needed.

"Kung inaakala ng Malacañang na kailangan nila ng batas para ipagpatuloy ang pag-ayuda o exemption sa Government Procurement Act, magtatawag ang Pangulo ng special session sa Kongreso. It’s always an option," he said. — BM, GMA News