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Minority senators call for special session for supplemental COVID budget

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The Senate minority bloc on Sunday called for a special session to tackle and pass the supplemental budget to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic.

The Department of Health (DoH) earlier sought a P2 billion supplemental budget to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

The four-man opposition bloc in the upper house is composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima.

“In view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, we in the Minority call for a special session of Congress to pass a supplemental budget to address the pandemic and help affected Filipino households, workers, and businesses,” the senators said.

The supplemental budget should cover the test kits for massive testing; relief goods for the most vulnerable; additional health personnel, equipment (protective gear and hospital beds), they said in a joint statement.

The fund must also be used to buy and vitamins and medicine as well as cash support or basic income grant for the daily wage earners and the unemployed “who don’t have sick and vacation leaves.”

It must be used as “subsidy or easy loans to help businesses, especially the micro and small ones, keep afloat during this period,” they added.

The House of Representatives (HoR) had already passed a P1.6 billion supplemental budget for COVID-19.

Congress adjourned on March 11 for its annual lenten break. It will resume session on May 4.

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