'No stimulus, no vacation': Solon says special sessions needed to pass economic stimulus packages

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2020 05:56 PM | Updated as of May 28 2020 06:36 PM

Jeepney drivers who ply the Sangandaan-Divisoria route solicit donations along Mabini Street in Caloocan City on May 25, 2020, as restrictions on public transport remain, leaving them out of an income source amid the COVID-19 crisis. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should call for special sessions of Congress for 2 weeks to pass an economic recovery plan and the pending corporate tax reform bill needed to boost the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawmaker said Thursday.

Special sessions should be called for both the House and the Senate to pass bills that would supplement the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the country's COVID-19 response law, House Ways and Means chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said in a statement. 

Salceda is pushing for the approval of an economic recovery plan and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), formerly known as CITIRA, which aims to "immediately" cut corporate income tax to 25 percent from 30 percent as early as July.

“We have to get both of these measures done now. I would of course prefer to have them approved for the President’s signature next week, but if we cannot, the best alternative is a special session," Salceda said.

“While the House could confidently pass the measure by next Monday, it may take a little more time for the Senate to pass its version. No stimulus, no vacation for Congress,” he added.

Congress goes on break on June 3.

Measures like the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA), now called the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill, are being tackled at the House plenary.

Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) is currently at the plenary as well and awaiting to be approved on second reading.

“We cannot delay covering the economy’s wounds. We must stop the bleeding now. At this point, any imperfect bill will be much better than no reform by June,” he added.

Metro Manila is under modified enhanced community quarantine until May 31. President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to make an announcement on further easing of COVID-19 restrictions to restart the economy.

-- with reports from RG Cruz and Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News