This March 20, 2020, photo shows people walking down the street to buy groceries amid the Luzon-wide lockdown imposed by the government to arrest the spread of the new coronavirus.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Congress special session for COVID-19 fightback set on March 23
( - March 21, 2020 - 6:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Congress is set to hold a special session on Monday, March 23, as the COVID-19 infections in the country breached 300th mark.

The STAR reported that the Congress is set to “pass measures against COVID-19.”

On Friday night, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the special session slated on Saturday was postponed. Instead, members of the Congress met at the Malacañang to discuss “how to empower, give govt [government] flexibility to address present crisis.”

The Philippines on Saturday afternoon reported 77 new COVID-19 cases—the biggest spike in record, so far— in the country, bringing the total infections to 307.

The Health department said five more patients recovered from the diseases, with four of them elderly. Death toll stood at 19.

Supplemental budget

 Apart from the P27.1-billion economic package unveiled by the Duterte administration earlier this week, a P1.65-billion supplemental budget for the Department of Health to address COVID-19 is also pending before Congress.

There is also House Bill 6606 authored by Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, who is calling for a P108-billion economic rescue plan.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak started shortly after the passage of the 2020 outlay in early January, a separate financing for countermeasures is not included in the present budget, while the government on its own, has limited room for fiscal manuever without committing constitutional violations.

Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Habitan told on Friday economic managers are discussing a second package of economic programs that would augment the initial P27.1-billion support announced this week, which investors deemed too small for the massive damage caused by the outbreak, and the drastic government response to it. — Kristine Joy Patag with Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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