SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
As the House of Representatives convened for a Special Session on Monday, Speaker Alan Peter "Compañero" Cayetano cites the “unprecedented cooperation” between the executive and the legislative as they work together to pass a comprehensive legislation that will address a national health emergency.
He also expressed optimism that congressmen, governors and mayors will work hand in hand to serve the people and provide much needed resources to each and every household.
“We want to show the world that there will be unprecedented cooperation between the executive and the legislative. Today, you will see congressmen, governors and mayors working hand in hand. This is our part, we will do our part, we will help the mayors, we will help the LGUs deliver these resources into the hands of each and every households,” he underscored in his opening statement.
The Speaker in his opening remarks expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for his unwavering commitment and leadership to protect the Filipinos as the country battles the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID19) Pandemic.
"Tayo po ay nagpapasalamat kay Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte for declaring the fourth week of March as the 'National Week of Prayer,' but we are also thanking him for all he has done to try to defeat COVID-19, to delay and try to minimize yung ma-iinfect ng COVID-19," he said.
Speaker Cayetano also thanked members of the House of Representatives for their commitment to serve the people, by demonstrating their cooperation with the executive branch and participating in the special session held to act on House Bill No. 6616. The bill seeks to declare the existence of a national emergency arising from COVID-19 and granting emergency powers to the President, for a limited period and subject to restrictions to fight the spread of the pandemic.
He also cited the hardwork and continuous efforts of the members of Congress to help alleviate the conditions of their constituents in their respective districts.
The Speaker pointed out that according to a health expert close to the World Health Organization (WHO), if President Duterte did not do anything about the COVID-19 spread, there may be about 30 percent of the population or about 35 million Filipinos who would be infected, and two percent of whom may die.
He stressed that the government wants to communicate a simple message to the public- “Stay home, save lives.”
“Pero mayroon pong simple message pabalik sa atin ang karamihan ng ating kababayans. "We stay home, we need resources" so we are here today to bridge that.” he said.
“So today, let's remember a simple way of calling each other, paano ba natin tawagin ang mga Pilipino kahit nasa abroad tayo? Hindi ba sinisitsitan natin? PSST. P-prayer. S -stay at home. S-save lives. T-take home package or take home pay which we will pass today,” Speaker Cayetano said.
The special session was held on the basis of Proclamation No. 933 issued by President Duterte, urgently calling Congress to conduct a Special Session to ensure the availability of funds needed to address the adverse effects of this global pandemic.
With this, the legislators held deliberations on House Bill No. 6616, which seeks to declare the existence of a national emergency arising from COVID-19 and granting emergency powers to the President, for a limited period, subject to restrictions. The emergency powers shall allow President Duterte to realign certain portions of the national budget in order to fund efforts that shall combat the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to affected Filipinos, among others.
A total of 299 House Members were in attendance during the special session. 20 of whom were physically present at the Plenary Hall, while 279 were declared on official business and joined the deliberations through teleconferencing.
The chamber allowed only 20 House Members, aside from the Speaker, to be physically present at the Batasan Complex in order to strictly adhere to the social distancing protocols issued by the government as part of the safety measures against the spread of COVID-19. They were Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu (2nd District, Batangas), Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Roberto Puno (1st District, Antipolo City) and Aurelio Gonzales Jr. (3rd District, Pampanga), Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (1st District, Leyte), Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. (6th District, Manila), Reps. Wilter Wee Palma II (1st District, Zamboanga Sibugay), Precious Hipolito-Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Juan Miguel Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Jesus Suntay (4th District, Quezon City), Romeo Jalosjos Jr. (1st District, Zamboanga del Norte) and Antonio Albano (1st District, Isabela), Metro Manila Development Committee Chair Manuel Luis Lopez (1st District, Manila), Good Government and Public Accountability Committee Chair Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Accounts Committee Chair Abraham Tolentino (8th District, Cavitye), Bases Conversion Committee Chair Francis Gerald Aguinaldo Abaya (1st District, Cavite), Public Accounts Committee Chair Michael Defensor (Party-list, ANAKALUSUGAN), Appropriations Committee Chair Eric Go Yap (Party-list, ACT-CIS), Reps. France Castro (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS), and Janette Garin (1st District, Iloilo).