Velasco praises House members for continuing legislative mill amid pandemic

Published March 26, 2021, 10:40 AM

by Mario Casayuran

As the 300-member House of Representatives goes on six-week Lenten recess starting Friday, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco lauded the Lower Chamber for successfully keeping the legislative mill running and passing vital measures responding to the needs of the people amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco
(Lord Allan Velasco’s Office / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We express our gratitude to the hardworking men and women of the House of Representatives for rising to the occasion to help our countrymen cope with the pandemic through the pieces of legislation that we have passed amid these trying times,” he said in a statement.

“There have been many challenges, as some of our colleagues and their staff caught COVID-19 in doing their work. Yet, the House of Representatives never wavered in its commitment to pass key legislative measures to help our country recover faster from this pandemic,’’ he added.

The House will resume regular session on May 17.

Before the adjournment on Thursday, March 25, the House approved on third and final reading 45 national and local bills, including the proposed Promotion of Digital Payments Act, Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act, Freelance Workers Protection Act, Medical Reserve Corps Act, and the bill establishing evacuation centers in every city and municipality.

The lower chamber also ratified the bicameral conference committee report on Velasco’s bill granting President Duterte the power to suspend the scheduled increases in Social Security System (SSS) contribution rates in times of national emergency, such as the COVID-19 crisis.

Velasco said that under his leadership, the House passed several bills that later became laws. These include the General Appropriations Act  (GAA) of 2021, Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, Financial Institution Strategic Transfer or FIST Act, and Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Last February 26, President Duterte signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which aimed to fast-track the procurement and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Velasco said that while he is proud of the work the House did in the past months, “there is much more to do to help individuals, families and businesses recover from the pandemic.”

To keep the legislative running despite the pandemic, the House also adopted measures to ensure the safety of those reporting for work at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City. Majority of the workforce were given work-from-home arrangements. 

House members, workers and visitors are also required to undergo COVID-19 testing before they are allowed entry to the complex.                 

Committee meetings and sessions were done via a hybrid of physical and remote hearings.

Velasco assured that the chamber would continue to “keep the legislative mill grinding despite the many challenges our society is facing.”

“We only have a little over a year in the 18th Congress, and we will do our very best to help the President fulfill his promises to the country and pass important laws to help our country rise above this pandemic,” he said.