House to switch gears as resumption of sessions nears

The House of Representatives is now preparing for the resumption of sessions come Monday, Nov. 7.

The House plenary (Ellson Quismorio/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Information coming from the Office of House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Saturday, Nov. 5 bared that the repacking of relief goods at Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City is "winding down" as almost all donated items in connection with the House's relief drive had been dispatched and delivered to communities requesting for aid.

Batasang Pambansa Complex is the home of the House of Representatives. Last week, Romualdez launched a relief drive for the victims of severe tropical storm (STS) "Paeng" and appealed for donations from the public.

Nov. 7 will mark the return of the 311 House members for the thrice-a-week sessions following a month-long recess. Paeng struck several parts of the country during the break.

For over a week now, Batasang Pambansa has served as a sorting and repacking hub for donations such as food, blankets, and toiletries. Buses and delivery trucks have used the location as a loading point for relief goods before going to the storm-affected areas.

Romualdez earlier said that nearly P75 million worth of donations had been received following his call for help. The figure is comprised of P26 million worth of "in kind" donations and P49.2 million worth of cash donations.

As for incoming donations, they will be moved to a nearby warehouse for safekeeping prior to their delivery to communities affected by Paeng.

Repacking efforts at the House (Speaker's office)

The transfer of the donations will allow House staff to switch to legislation mode, especially since the lawmakers are still expected to tackle several important bills before the end of the year.

These are the proposed creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines, Medical Reserve Corps, National Disease Prevention Management Authority or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; the amendment to the Build Operate Transfer Law; the National Service Training Program; the Agrarian Reform Debt Condonation Law; and the E-Government and E-Governance Acts.

The House members, along with their Senate counterparts, will also give their final touches to the proposed P5.268-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2023 once the Bicameral Conference Committee hearings start. The goal is to have the budget measure signed by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. before year's end.

The finalized national budget is expected to reflect the government’s response to the destruction caused by Paeng.

Both chambers of Congress will have their Christmas recess on Dec. 16. This means that the solons would only have roughly five weeks to pass as many of the measures as they can before the start of another lengthy break.