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Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said on Thursday he has requested President Rodrigo Duterte and the House leadership to convene a special session of Congress to enact special powers and supplemental appropriations to tackle the socioeconomic impact of the outbreak of Covid-19.

The chairman of the House committee on ways and means warned that the Philippines could see the rise of COVID-19 cases to as many as 50,300 by the time Congress resumes session on May 4.

Salceda wrote an aide memoire addressed to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez recommending the following:

That the President convene a special session of Congress to ensure that, if necessary, decisive policy action, including funding adjustments, can be made to effectively combat Covid-19;

That the Speaker designate a small group to come up, in consultation with public health experts and economists, with legislative measures to prevent mass transmission, contain the disease, and mitigate its socioeconomic impacts;

That House rules be amended temporarily to accommodate a virtual convening of session and virtual voting, in line with social distancing measures in place.”

“Hindi po pwedeng naka-recess ang Kongreso habang may national crisis,” Salceda said.

“There are policy levers that are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, such as appropriations and granting special powers to the President,” he said.

“Besides, hindi po in good form naka-recess kami habang may crisis. We will need to convene at some point before May 4, the original resumption of session,” Salceda said.

“There are critically needed interventions. Ang estimates po ng opisina ko, kapag hindi tayo nag-lockdown, at hindi natin binigyan si Presidente ng special health emergency powers, posible pong umabot sa 50,300 cases pagbalik namin sa session sa May 4,” he warned.

“By all accounts this will infect hundreds, if not thousands. Fortunately, 80 percent of those infected have only mild symptoms, so mababa po ang fatality. Pero kailangan handa ang public health facilities natin, so Congress needs to be ready to back up the executive in the crucial two months,” Salceda said.

“Apart from those recommendations, I am filing a supplemental appropriations bill that will prioritize Filipino workers and families in responding to the economic impacts Covid-19,” he added.

“Kasi temporary lang naman ang tama niyan sa ekonomiya, pero ang potential damage talaga, sa ordinaryong mamamayan,” he said.

Salceda said the next two months will be extremely critical in ensuring the virus is contained.

“Sa baseline estimates po namin, kung maglockdown next week, baka umabot lang tayo sa 23,800 infected persons by May 4, yung original na balik ng sessiom. A huge number, for sure, but we will be better able to deal with it,” he said.

“Best case ng data analysis ko kapag wala tayong ginawa, posibleng umabot ito sa 50,300 cases by May 4,” Salceda said.

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