Martin’s motion to continue hearings adopted

Martin Romualdez

THE House of Representatives on Friday adopted a motion of House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez authorizing all standing and special committees to conduct public hearings or inquiries even during the current break.

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules, 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.

“Upon instruction of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the House of Representatives is now authorizing all standing and special committees, when necessary, to continue performing its mandate of conducting public hearings or inquiries in aid of legislation while Congress is on recess until resumption in July,” said Romualdez, who co-chaired the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee with Speaker Cayetano.

Before adjourning sine die on Friday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading various anti-coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) measures, including House Bill (HB) 6815 or the P1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines Act), HB 6817 or the proposed COVID-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act, HB 6865 or the “Crushing COVID-19 Act which mandates the conduct of baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing as the protocol for COVID-19 testing for the vulnerable members of the society, HB 6895 or “An Act To Lengthen the School Calendar From Two Hundred Days to Not More Than Two Hundred Twenty Class Days” to empower the President to set a different date for the start of the school year during a state of emergency or state of calamity, HB 6816 or the proposed "Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act" that seeks to help financial institutions to resolve their debts and manage their non-performing assets (NPAs), and HB 6920 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020.

The House of Representatives also approved on second reading HB 6864 or the proposed "Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020" to prepare and educate Filipinos for life through new norms of social or physical distancing and safety measures in government and private offices, schools, commercial establishments and other public spaces.

Congress on Friday adjourned its sessions sine die, signaling the end of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress, and will resume on July 27 or the beginning of the Second Regular Session.

On the same day, President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

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

He reiterated that the joint hearing on 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 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 stressed.

“We will not be distracted and we will not lose track on shepherding priority legislations that will answer and cater to the needs of the welfare of the people especially in this challenging and difficult times. We must work doubly hard not only to arrive at the decision on whether to grant the franchise application of ABS-CBN but more importantly, to craft and put into fruition the passage of the priority measures relative to the fight against the pandemic, and the eventual defeat of COVID-19,” Romualdez pointed out.