MANILA – The House of Representatives will impose social distancing measures as it prepares to convene in a special session for the passage of additional funding to combat the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said on Friday.
“Under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is now preparing to convene in a special session for coronavirus disease funds,” Romualdez said.
“This is a call of duty and we are committed to responding to President Duterte’s request to ensure possible quick response to defeat Covid-19, help Filipinos living below the poverty line, protect people in the frontline, and map out other contingency measures,” he added.
House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. supported the convening of a special session to allocate the much-needed funds to address the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Our experience in the first few days of the Luzon lockdown should compel us all to act. It is not enough that we compel our citizens to stay home––the government must find ways to take care of them, especially the poor and elderly,” Abante said.
“Dapat sagot na ng gobyerno lahat: testing, gamot, at (The government should shoulder everything: testing, medicine, and) hospitalization if it comes to that. Every citizen should know that if they get this disease they can get treatment,” Abante said.
Aside from funding for treatment and health care, Abante said Congress should allot funds to feed families that are dependent on daily wages.
“Dalawa lang ang concerns ng ating kababayan: takot silang magkasakit, at takot silang magutom (The Filipinos only have two concerns: they are afraid of getting sick and getting hungry). These are the two concerns that the government must address immediately,” he said.
He pushed for Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo’s proposal allocating PHP65 billion for “no work, no pay” workers.
The proposal would provide cash transfers for the 6.9 million “no work, no pay” workers in Luzon, who would receive PHP9,420 each for 23 days.
“The emergency funds that will be mobilized should prioritize the least and the last in our society––the ones most vulnerable to this disease and the effects of this lockdown,” Abante said.
“Now, more than ever, the country’s leaders should come together to collectively address this public health threat. There is only one enemy here: the virus. And we should be guided by one objective: to protect and care for our people,” he added.
President Duterte has called on Congress to hold a special session to pass a supplemental budget to prevent the spread of Covid-19 following the recommendation of Senator Christopher Lawrence Go and other lawmakers.
In a press statement late Thursday, Go stressed the need for Congress to pass a measure granting a supplemental budget that can be used amid the government’s continuing efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“President Duterte has already responded to this recommendation and has called on Congress to hold the special session immediately,” Go said.
He said both Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Speaker Cayetano have expressed readiness to hold a special session “at the soonest possible time.”
Go said the special session would be held either on Saturday or Monday next week. (PNA)