HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Thursday said 27 standing and four special committees held 123 hybrid and virtual meetings via Zoom application during sine die break aimed at passing quality laws, improving the delivery of basic services and ensuring the country’s survival from the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules, said the House of Representatives as an institution performed its tasks commendably and with distinction to deliver the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I thank my fellow House members for their exemplary work ethic and willingness to adopt technological tools that allowed us to work non-stop even during our break and the lockdown,” said Romualdez on the 123 meetings by 31 regular and special panels.
The 301-strong House of Representatives has a total of 63 standing committees and 16 special panels.
Citing data from the Committee Affairs Department (CAD), Romualdez said the 31 panels held 92 regular committee hearings, 26 technical working group (TWG) meetings, four executive hearings, and one ocular inspection from June 6 to July 24.
Before adjourning sine die last June 5, the House of Representatives adopted the motion of Romualdez authorizing all standing and special committees to conduct public hearings and inquiries during the break.
“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, who co-chaired the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, told his colleagues when he made the motion.
Romualdez said the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability chaired by Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado held the highest number of hearings with 15 regular meetings followed by 12 hearings (11 regular and one TWG meetings) of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises led by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez.
The House Majority Leader said the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and the House Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor held a joint investigation into the alleged anomalies/corruption in the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), alleged mishandling in the implementation of the SAP provided for under RA 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act; the sudden big spike in Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) electricity rates and bills despite the overcapacity of electricity supply, and the sudden increase in electricity rates and interruptions during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ).
He said the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability also conducted a joint hearing with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises on the 25-year renewal of ABS-CBN Corporation franchise to construct, install, operate and maintain radio and television broadcasting stations in the Philippines that was later denied.
According to him, the House Committee on Public Accounts held two hearings on the whole of government approach in its migration policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The House Committee on Basic Education held 7 meetings (five regular and two TWG meetings) while the House Committee on Trade and Industry conducted six hearings (four regular and two TWG meetings), said Romualdez.
He said the House Special Committee on North Luzon Growth Quadrangle held seven regular hearings and the House Committees on Ways and Means (3 regular and 3 TWG meetings), Information and Communications Technology (two regular and four TWG hearings) and on Agriculture and Food (3 regular and 3 TWG meetings) held six hearings each.
Romualdez said the House Committee on Civil Service Commission and Professional Regulation (3 regular and 2 TWG meetings) where it conducted inquiry into the status of upcoming board examinations in light of COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.
The Leyte House leader said the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC) Health and COVID-19 Response Cluster held two regular hearings, including discussions on several bills providing hazard pay, special protection, and other benefits to medical frontliners during public health emergencies.
The House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries held three regular hearings, including a briefing on measures undertaken by banks and financial institutions to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Romualdez said the House committee on economic affairs held five regular hearings, including a forum on "Build Back Better: Economic Resilience After COVID-19.”
The House Committee on Overseas Workers held a hearing on the issues and concerns affecting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, said Romualdez.
According to him, the House committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education held a meeting on proposals to institutionalize blended and flexible learning in all public and private schools, technical-vocational schools, colleges and universities during national and local emergencies.
“We are busy with our work, and we intend to keep it that way. We all have roles to play, and we are just glad to be given the opportunity to serve,” Romualdez said, adding they are “always focused and committed to pass quality legislation at all times.”