Press Release
October 11, 2020

Drilon proposes holding of special session from Nov. 9 to 13

To guarantee the approval of the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021 on time, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon proposed the holding of a special session from November 9 to 13.

Drilon urged the President to call for a special session of Congress from Nov. 9 to 13 to allow the Senate to debate on the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act on the floor.

"We will debate on the budget from Nov. 9 to 13. We can finish it within five to seven days and allot two weeks for the bicam. Congress can send to Malacanang the 2021 GAA by the first week of December so that the President can sign it before January 1, 2021," Drilon said in an interview with radio DzBB on Sunday.

The opposition senator proposed the holding of a special session during the one-month break that will start on Oct. 17 "in order to guarantee the passage of the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act on time."

The Congress is set to adjourn on Oct. 17 and will resume session only until mid-November. The President has already called for a special session of Congress from Oct. 13 to 16 to allow the House of Representatives, which adjourned session last October 6, to finish the approval of the budget.

Section 15, Article VI of the Constitution allows the President to call a special session at any time.

"Hindi pwedeng magkaroon ng reenacted budget. Dalawampung taon ko nang titiningnan ang budget, alam ko na ang sama ng epekto kapag nagkaroon ng reenacted budget lalo na ngayong may pandemya," Drilon stressed.

In a statement, the Senate chief fiscalizer stressed how crucial it is to have the budget for 2021 enacted on time.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of passing the 2021 national budget on time. Just look at these alarming figures: 7.6 million families are hungry, 7.3 million lost jobs last April and 4.6 million in July, and 5.5 million of our countrymen can be pushed into poverty next without sufficient economic relief from the government" Drilon said.

"We are facing a full-year economic contraction of 6.9% as projected by the World Bank," he added. The forecasts of the World Bank as well as most other financial institutions were beyond the government's projection of a 4.5-6.6 percent full-year contraction.

Drilon said a delayed approval of the budget will affect the country's recovery from catastrophic effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the proposed national budget will provide additional funding, although still insufficient, for the hiring of health personnel, purchase of PPEs and allocation for emergency repatriation of overseas Filipino workers, livelihood and emergency employment and assistance to small and medium enterprises.

The minority chief said the holding of a special session is a "safety net" in case there will be delays in the bicam.

He said he does not expect the bicam to be smooth-sailing given the huge lump-sum appropriations in the budget. He also said the Senate will question other controversial items such as the P19-billion in anti-insurgency funds, the lack of a special amelioration program, the insufficient funding for the Department of Health, among others.

Drilon had earlier sought to increase the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in order to bolster the government's ability to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and address the plight of the poor.

He also proposed to to include a special amelioration program (SAP) in the next year's budget.

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