Placing the House of Representatives under lockdown is unnecessary, two lawmakers said Sunday.
House Deputy Speakers Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. of Camarines Sur and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur said they do not see the need to put the House under lockdown despite the 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded in the House among its employees and members.
“No need to lockdown because the House continuously conducts intense health and safety protocols, that’s why we are able to detect and determine COVID cases immediately,” Villafuerte said in a text message.
“Continuous testing, contact tracing is conducted and those detected with COVID are immediately sent for treatment and those they have contacted are automatically tested, isolated, and quarantined,” he assured.
Pimentel, who tested positive for COVID-19, agreed with Villafuerte, even as he batted for “very strict” implementation of health and safety protocols in the chamber to avoid the spread of COVID-19 infection.
“I don’t think we should impose a lockdown, considering we just resumed session and there many important bills to be passed,” he said.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the legislative mill should keep grinding amid the threats of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let us just maintain the policy of minimizing the number of people in the session hall and in different offices within the Batasang Pambansa complex and strictly enforce all health protocols. We have to regularly disinfect the building and offices and the wearing mask and face shield is a must. We can still continue with our work via virtual platforms,” he said.
Four House members have caught the infection.
On Saturday, House Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman announced that he tested positive for COVID-19, along with his wife, Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia A Turabin Hataman.
Aside from Hataman and Pimentel, Reps. Samir Tan of Sulu and Henry Villaraca also caught the disease.
Of the 28 victims of COVID-19 in the House, three employees succumbed to the disease.