Sun. Aug 1st, 2021

MANILA – The House of Representatives will likely hold a special session after the sine die adjournment of the first regular session of the 18th Congress, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday.

“Please be on standby in the next few days for the special session, and let us continue to work hard and pray hard,” Cayetano told lawmakers during his adjournment speech.

House Bill (HB) 6953, which seeks to extend the effectivity of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law for another three months or up to Sept.30, 2020, is still up for consideration at the second reading stage.

The special powers granted to President Rodrigo Duterte to combat the Covid-19 health emergency is only valid for three months, unless extended by Congress. The law was signed on Mar. 24, 2020.

Aside from the possibility of a special session, the chamber adopted the motion of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez authorizing all standing and special committees to conduct public hearings or inquiries even during the congressional break.

Romualdez formalized his motion to allow all House panels, especially the House committees on legislative franchises and on good government and public accountability to hold hearings and inquiries.

“In accordance with our rules, I move that we authorize all committees to conduct meetings, if deemed necessary, during the adjournment sine die of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress,” Romualdez said.

Before the break, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a series of measures related to the government’s coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response, including HB No. 6815 or the PHP1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) Act; HB No. 6817 or the proposed Covid-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act; HB No. 6865 which mandates the conduct of baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for vulnerable sectors; and HB No. 6709 or the Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020, among others.

Romualdez said allowing House panels to hold meetings is aimed at producing “noteworthy and meaningful proposed legislation even on recess and support the continued hearings of the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation’s franchise application.”

He reiterated that the joint hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise application will not in any way affect the commitment of the House leadership to pass laws, especially those that would respond to the nation’s survival from coronavirus disease-19 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The primary duty of Members is to legislate. Our own House Rules specifically provides that Members shall, among others, prepare, introduce and work for the passage of legislative measures to effectively address social, political, and economic needs and concerns,” Romualdez said. (PNA)

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