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Special session pitched to approve Bayanihan 3

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday backed the call for a special session for the immediate passage of a P420-billion stimulus package under the Bayanihan 3.

Velasco, principal author of the Bayanihan 3, said the House is ready to conduct a special session if President Duterte calls for it.

“Right now, the Bayanihan 3 and related bills are already being studied by the Committees on Economic Affairs and on Social Services; by the time the measures are finished at the committee level, we would have resumed session in May,” said Velasco.

The Congress is on recess and is scheduled to resume sessions on May 17, 2021.

“However, if Malacañang certifies the bill as urgent, we will comply,” he added.

Velasco made the statement
after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged Duterte to call for a special session of Congress to pass another stimulus package.

Earlier, Velasco said the Department of Finance (DOF) assured the House that efforts are being made to identify funding sources for the P420-billion Bayanihan 3.

The economic managers had reportedly said they were not sure if the third stimulus package would still be necessary if quarantine restrictions were eased further and the economy moves faster.

According to the Speaker, the House is continuously studying the sources of funding for the proposal.

Velasco filed Bayanihan 3 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.

“A third economic stimulus package will provide much-needed lifeline to individuals, families and businesses severely affected by the pandemic,” said Velasco.

For his part, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda, another principal author of the Bayanihan 3, said what the country needs now is lifeline interventions, or ayuda, and mass testing.

“I agree. The Secretary of Finance and I talk on a regular basis on these matters, and the last time we had a conversation, he said he might have a hard time finding the money. That said, my committee will continue to help him find the revenues and improve our collection performance, as we have been doing over the past few weeks,” he said.

“I am fully on board with a third round of stimulus. After all, I am a principal author of the House proposal, and will likely be asked by the Speaker to defend it on the floor.

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