By Ben Rosario
House Speaker Alan Cayetano on Monday announced that the House of Representatives will create a Defeat COVID-19 committee (DCC) that will act as an advisory and coordinating committee for legislative proposals aimed at combatting the coronavirus disease.
At the same time, Cayetano reiterated his statement that the Lower House is ready to hold special sessions to act on urgent legislative proposals necessary for giving the country a bigger fighting chance against the spread of the disease.
“But the committee on appropriations has already approved the supplemental budget for the DOH (Department of Health), o kung kinakailangan ito o kinakailangan mag-sesyon, ready ang House of Representatives (or if this is needed or it there is a need to hold session, the House of Represetnatives is ready),” the speaker said.
Cayetano said the proposed DCC will pave the way for better harmony and guarantee the streamlining of efforts to address the COVID-19 threat.
Cayetano will supervise the proposed panel which he stressed will not be a “hierarchical body.”
Relevant House committees will take the lead in pursuing legislative measures, depending on the issue brought to it.
“Maybe if it’s a health concern, the committee on health will take the lead. If it’s a concern sa economy, then ways and means, economic affairs, and appropriations. So it won’t be a hierarchical type of committee na may (with a) chairman. It’s more of a coordinating committee,” he said.
Cayetano explained that the DCC shall initially comprise the committees on health, economic affairs, tourism, trade and industry, labor and employment, banks and financial intermediaries, public information, appropriations, ways and means, local government, and Metro Manila development.
Vulnerable sectors shall also be represented in the DCC by the committees on persons with disability and senior citizens.
House officials including Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr., and Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. will also be members of the DCC.
In the press briefing, Cayetano took the time to express his and his wife’s sympathies to the family of a House employee who succumbed to COVID-19 complications on Saturday.
Cayetano also urged critics of the Duterte administration to “set aside politics” in the meantime as the country is gripped by the COVID-19 danger.
He said critics may air their suggestions and comments against the government so long as this is done through proper channels instead of “ranting in our social media.”
“We’re also appealing to the task force na i-convert ‘yung 8888 to a COVID-19 hotline,” Cayetano said as he noted that various hotlines on the serious public health problem are not enough to address the public’s need for advice, information, and other important concerns about the disease and how to combat its spread.