Sotto eyes special session as quick response to COVID-19

SENATE President Tito Sotto on Friday said that Congress could convene in a special session tomorrow to tackle a possible food subsidy budget for those affected by enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of COVID 19.

“Yes if we receive the President’s letter today,” Sotto said when asked if Congress would hold its special session on Saturday.

Sotto said Congress could pass a bill that would allow the President to use unspent funds to ensure food security amid the health crisis, among others.

“Di ko pa sigurado kung tatawaging supplemental budget pero parang it will be a bill or a law allowing the President to use unused funds for this particular…para sa COVID-19,” he said.

Sotto said that there is a possibility that the funds of local government units (LGUs) would run out by early next week from providing food for its constituents.

“Tinawagan ako ng isa, dalawang mga high-level na mga ekonomista natin, mga malalaking businessmen, ang kinakabahan nila ay by Monday, Tuesday, kakapusin na yung mga LGUs at saka mahirap kasi yung puro food distribution e. Bibili kang pagkain, ipe-prepare mo, ibabalot mo, idi-distribute mo,” he said.

“So ang sinasuggest nila—pinarating ko kagad sa Malacañang, tinawagan ko si Sec. Dominguez—sinasuggest nila, dapat daw cash ang ibigay because economic stimulus pa ‘yon. So, pagka ganon medyo malaki-laki ang involved hindi pwedeng basta supplemental budget lang pero maraming available na budget GAA (General Appropriations Act) nung 2019 at 2020 na alam kong magagamit para diyan because emergency to e, ibang klaseng krisis ito e, baka wala na tayong bansa pag hindi (tayo) kumilos ngayon e,” he added.

Sotto said that they need to immediately pass the bill. “Ito fast break na bill ito. Pag finirst reading sa umaga, sinecond reading sa tanghali, tinhird reading namin sa hapon dapat,” Sotto said.