MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has adjourned sine die its first regular session in the 18th Congress without passing the proposed “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III adjourned the session on Thursday afternoon, without approving on final reading the Senate Bill No. 1564 that would provide for the Philippines’ coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response and recovery plan.
Before adjourning the session, senators held a caucus as they waited for the urgent certification from Malacañang to allow the swift approval of the measure.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte did not certify the bill as urgent as announced later by his spokesperson, Harry Roque.
Senate Bill 1564 seeks to extend until September the validity of the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which grants the president special powers to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act is an emergency measure which will expire once the Congress adjourns sine die.
Under the law, all provisions under an emergency measure cease to be valid upon the next adjournment of Congress.
According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, once the Bayanihan to Heal as One law lapses and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act is not passed, the national government will no longer be compelled to give cash aid.
“Mawawala ang emergency powers. Lahat ng provision sa Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, balewala na ‘yan kasi time bound ‘yan,” he said during an online interview with reporters before the resumption of Thursday’s session.
“Kung hindi mapapasa ito, ang mga kababayan natin na ‘di nakakatanggap ng tulong, ang maasahan lang nila kung ano ang ibibigay ng Executive Branch na available pero hindi sila mama-mandate ng batas na magbigay ng ayuda,” he added.
The Senate on Wednesday passed on second reading the proposed ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act but it did not reach the third and final reading due to the three-day rule in passing legislation. An urgent certification from the Palace would have expedited the passage of the measure.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, the allocation of a P140-billion standby fund is proposed to help sectors and industries heavily-hit by the pandemic. It also seeks to provide funds for the procurement of additional COVID-19 testing equipment as well as the implementation of assistance programs for displaced workers, low-income households and other sectors.
Congress will open the second regular session in July. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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