Taguig-Pateros Rep. and former speaker Alan Peter Cayetano chided the current House leadership Thursday for “killing off” the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC).
Speaking during the press conference of the “BTS sa Congress” coalition, Cayetano argued that the DCC is better suited to hold a public hearing on the COVID-19 vaccination issue than, say, the Committee on Health.
“Happy kami na because of certain comments, maghe-hearing sila sa Monday. Pero pinatay nila yung Defeat COVID-19 Committee, so Committee on Health ang maghe-hearing (We’re happy that, because of certain comments, they will have a hearing on Monday. But since they killed the Defeat COVID-19 Committee, the Committee on Health will hold the hearing),” he said.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco confirmed in a statement the same day that the Health panel would indeed hold a virtual hearing on COVID-19 vaccination, which would cover the status of the government’s vaccination plan.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque and National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. are among the resource persons expected to participate in the proceedings.
According to Cayetano, the DCC–his brainchild in March 2020 when he was still the Speaker–is more encompassing in scope than any single House committee. All COVID-response bills, be it economic or health-centric, used to be referred to the DCC.
“Kung inoperationalize nila yung DCC for Monday, then lahat ng comments…yung DCC sakop niya lahat eh. (If they operationalized the DCC for Monday, then all comments can be covered by the DCC). We know what we are doing,” said Cayetano, who co-chaired the DCC along with Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
“So kung sasabihin ng FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) doon tsaka ni Secretary Galvez na ang problema nila ay procurement, hindi po sakop ng Health yun (If the FDA and Sec. Galvez would say in the hearing that procurement of vaccines is the problem, then the Health committee can’t answer for that),” the ex-Speaker explained.
Cayetano also took a shot at Velasco for prioritizing the hearing on Charter Change (Cha-Cha) which the former described as a “political” matter.
“Kung inuna niya ang hearing sa vaccination at sa PhilHealth, eh di walang problema. Eh inuuna Cha-Cha eh (Had he prioritized hearings on vaccination and Philhealth, we wouldn’t have a problem. But he priortized Cha-Cha). That’s an example of fair criticism that we are giving,” he said.
On behalf of the BTS coalition, Cayetano said: “We just want to show the public na sa tingin namin, mali direksyon ng Kongreso (in our view, Congress is in the wrong direction).”