MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said he will first consult leaders of the House of Representatives on how they would convene for the resumption of the session on May 4, as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been extended anew in Metro Manila and other select areas.
Cayetano said the lower chamber would most likely hold sessions in a virtual platform, similar to the special session last March 23 when it passed the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
It was the first time in the chamber’s history to hold a “virtual” session to strictly observe social distancing measures, wherein only around 21 lawmakers were physically present while the remaining 279 House members participated via teleconferencing.
“Well, I have to consult the leaders of the House but most probably kung paano din nag convene nung March 23 (it would be similar [to the session] convened on March 23). Totoo po na may risk, totoo po na may danger (The risk is real; the danger is real),” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.
“Pero ang katotohanan kailangan makita ng tao na may gobyerno, na yung gobyerno nagtatrabaho para sa kanila (But the truth is the people need to see that the government is working for them). So we will take all the precautions,” he added.
Cayetano said the chamber would be prioritizing the stimulus bill seeking to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic on the Philippine economy.
He noted that the House would also look into the 2019 and 2020 national budgets to see if the Department of Budget and Management is canceling “the right projects”.
“Remember, there’s life after Covid or life after ECQ. And life after ECQ, siguro may Covid pa rin (Covid-19 would still probably be there), but it still means that dapat development sa bawat sulok ng ating bansa (there should be development in every corner of the country),” he said.
“Meron po tayo talagang mga project na apektado at kailangan magsakripisyo pero meron ding mga (We have projects that would be affected and must be sacrificed, and we have) priorities and the law we gave them, empower them,” he added.
In a recorded public address aired Friday on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to extend ECQ until May 15 in areas with high cases of Covid-19 to effectively stop the contagion.
Roque said ECQ would be maintained in Metro Manila, Benguet, Pangasinan, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, and Catanduanes, Davao del Norte, and Davao City. (PNA)