THE House of Representatives is now preparing for a possible special session to discuss and approve contingency funds to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
This was announced by Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, adding that the leadership is already discussing the rules.
Congress is now on Lenten break and will resume regular session on May 4.
However, there is a clamor for a special session as several departments, particularly the Department of Health (DOH), are asking for a contingency fund for the COVID-19.
“This is a call of duty and we are committed to respond to President Duterte’s request to ensure possible quick response to defeat COVID-19, help Filipinos living below poverty line, protect people in the frontline, and map out other contingency measures,” Romualdez said.
“Plans, including observing social distancing amid quarantine are being finalized to guarantee the safety of our House employees, officials, media, and lawmakers attending the special session,” he added.
Earlier, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House is ready to hold a special session if President Rodrigo Duterte said so.
Cayetano said the House is willing to amend the rules like limiting the attendees to protect every member from the disease.
He added social distancing will be observed and voting can be done through cellphone.
The House Minority group led by its Leader Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante is fully supporting the holding of a special session.
Abante said the joint session of Congress should give priority to the allocation of 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––government must find ways to take care of them, especially the poor and elderly," Abante said.
According to Abante, funds should be allocated "so that every Filipino need not worry about the costs of treatment."
"Dapat sagot na ng gobyerno lahat: testing, gamot, at hospitalization, if it comes to that. Every citizen should know that if they get this disease they can get treatment," he added.
Aside from funding for treatment and health care, the House leader said that 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. These are the two concerns that the government must address immediately,” he pointed out.
The veteran solon is pushing for the P65 billion allocation for "no work, no pay" workers as proposed by Assistant Minority Leader and Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo.