Congressmen on standby, ready to resume for special session on budget measure

Published March 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano Tuesday assured the public that the House of Representatives will be ready to hold a special session to pass the proposed P1.6 billion supplemental budget that the Department of Health will need in its fight against the spread of the anti-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) in the country.

House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano made the assurance as regular sessions of Congress is set to end today for the annual legislative break. Sessions will resume on May 3, making any bid to pass the supplemental budget measure late in achieving its objective of addressing the worsening COVID 19 situation.

The House leader expects all 306 House members to be in the country during their two-month respite from lawmaking.

“The House is on standby, we are willing to hold special session,” Cayetano told reporters during a joint press conference with other House leaders Tuesday.

Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said the proposed P1.6 billion supplemental budget bill has breezed through the deliberations of the Committee on Appropriations, now chaired by ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Go Yap.

“COVID-19 is a very pressing issue, the House committee on appropriations has already passed the supplemental budget in anticipation for the Executive’s budgetary needs to address the problem,” Romualdez said.

Yap was asked to coordinate with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office to determine if Duterte will certify the supplemental budget an urgent administration and have it approved swiftly.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda, appropriations panel vice chairman, said that while the additional budget is being processed, the national government still has P4.1 billion available for the COVID 19 health countermeasures.

“But, the P1.6 billion supplemental is an additional budget coupled with an authorization that part of the budget may be used to compensate medical responders,” Salceda said.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate supported the call of Amihan or National Federation of Peasant Women for the government to prepare its support program for possible COVID-19 outbreak in the barrios nationwide.

“Now that there are already 24 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines and classes on all levels have be cancelled from March 10-14 in the National Capital Region, the demand for a support program for possible outbreak in barrios and urban poor areas is legitimate,” said Zarate.

Appeal to DepEd

For her part, San Jose del Monte Rep. Rida Robes issued a strong appeal to the Department of Education to consider all students enrolled in the current school year to have passed and be eligible for promotion to the next level of education.

“I have been personally swamped with appeals by concerned parents in my district in San Jose Del Monte City and even other areas seeking a more definitive and resolute order from DepEd especially since final exams and graduation rites are scheduled in the coming weeks,” said Robes.

She pointed out that since the school year is nearly ending, the DepEd could help allay the fears of parents on the health and education of their children due to the suspension of classes.

“This is not to unduly impose on DepEd but it a preventive measure for the safety and protection of our children who are in greater risk of getting the virus if they are in school,” stated Robes.