Creation of new departments in gov’t placed in back burner due to COVID-19

Published May 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Charissa M. Luci-Atienza

Given the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, a House leader said on Tuesday that the creation of new Departments in the government may have to be placed on the back burner.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Bataan 1st Rep. Geraldine Roman, chairperson of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said she is not optimistic that the Duterte government will ask Congress to expedite the passage of measures creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment (DFO), and Department of Water Resources and Services (DWR).

“I do not expect the government to prioritize the creation of new national agencies given the post-COVID economic slump the country will face,” she told the Manila Bulletin in a text message.

But given the current health crisis, the lawmaker pressed on the need for the House of Representatives to pursue the creation of the DDR which is now pending in the plenary.

She said such agency should be established “for a more rapid, coordinated, and effective response in the future and in order to educate the public on how to minimize the effects of a future epidemic.”

Majority Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez expressed over the weekend the Lower Chamber’s commitment to pass the DDR bill.

He noted that the House already transmitted to the Senate its version of the measure establishing the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment.

The bill creating the Department of Water Resources and Services is set to be endorsed for plenary approval.

Roman said the passage of the DDR measure may be shelved as the House leadership intends to prioritize measures seeking to strengthen the government’s response against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I expect we will first pass the New Normal Bill, but once the ECQ ends and we attend to our country’s economic recovery, we can push for the DDR’s approval,” she said.

Romualdez had earlier said they will prioritize the passage of the proposed P700 billion economic stimulus package under the Philippine Economic Recovery Act (PERA), the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020, and the proposed “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020.”

House Bill No. 6623, the proposed “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020,” seeks to establish the new norms of social or physical distancing and safety measures in government and private offices, schools, commercial establishments, and other public spaces.

The bill is principally authored by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Romualdez, Deputy Speakers Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Paolo Duterte and Loren Legarda, and Reps. Eric Yap, Michael Defensor, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.