MANILA – The House of Representatives is ready to hold a special session to tackle and approve a supplemental budget necessary to help the government combat the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano gave the assurance on Tuesday as the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country rose to 33.
“The House is on standby anytime the President calls for a special session, we’ll be ready,” Cayetano told reporters in a press briefing.
The House of Representatives only has one session day left before it goes into a more than a month-long legislative recess for the Lenten break.
“Most (House) members will be in the country during the next five to six weeks so we will use them as a resource, hindi lang dito puwede mag-hearing, pwede rin sa kani-kanilang mga distrito ([and] conduct hearings not just in Congress, but also in their respective districts),” he added.
The House appropriations committee approved a bill seeking a PHP1.65-billion supplemental budget for the Department of Health (DOH) to address the Covid-19 threat.
Cayetano said he has directed committee chair, Eric Go Yap, to coordinate with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office and ask President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the supplemental budget measure.
Majority Leader Rep. Martin Romualdez said the additional appropriation is in anticipation of the executive’s budgetary needs to address the public health threat.
President Duterte has issued a proclamation formally declaring a state of public health emergency after the health department reported the first known local transmission of Covid-19.
The proclamation would also facilitate the implementation of mandatory reporting, intensify government response and measures, and enforce quarantine and disease control prevention measures.
He also ordered the suspension of all schools in the National Capital Region from March 10 to 14 to ensure the safety of students from the disease. (PNA)