Romualdez: Solons to continue war vs COVID-19 under work-from-home scheme

Martin Romualdez
HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez: I’m in the pink of health and well enough to continue performing my duties as House Majority Leader and will activate my work-from-home scheme. Photo by VER NOVENO

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Thursday assured the public that lawmakers undergoing self-quarantine will continue to work from home to help President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic fight.

“I'm in the pink of health and well enough to continue performing my duties as House Majority Leader and will activate my work-from-home scheme,” said Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, after ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap admitted Wednesday night being tested positive for COVID-19.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share to all of you that I tested positive for coronavirus," said Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations who was tested last March 15 and was informed of the results on Wednesday.

Yap attended the House of Representatives’ special session last Monday along with 20 other lawmakers led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Romualdez and went to the Palace last Saturday to help draft the contingency measure against COVID-19 as chairman of the House committee on appropriations.

“While I had no close contact with our esteemed colleague, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, during last Monday’s special session, the most responsible thing for me to do at this moment is to undergo self-quarantine. This is a precautionary measure to avoid potential infection and the more prudent way of helping President Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Duterte’s campaign to defeat COVID-19,” said Romualdez, adding that he also ordered his staff who was with him last Monday to undergo self-quarantine.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, who chairs the House committee on public accounts, said “submitting to quarantine is another best thing they can contribute to government’s fight against the pandemic.”

Citing protocols, House Secretary General Atty. Jose Luis Montales recommended that the 21 lawmakers and all House employees who were present during the special session should undergo self-quarantine.

“Following protocols, all the members and employees who attended the Special Session will go on self-quarantine,” said Montales.

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte announced that he would also undergo self-quarantine.

"I’m on my day one of self-quarantine and will complete the 14 days. I’m feeling good and normal, no symptoms such as sore throat, fever or cough," said Villafuerte who like Romualdez will also work at home.

“This is probably the time for our companies to give RA 11165 (Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act) a chance by pilot-testing or trying out this alternative job arrangement of allowing their employees, if possible, to work in their homes instead of reporting to their respective offices until this new viral outbreak subsides,” said Villafuerte, the principal author of RA No. 11165 in the House of Representatives.

House Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante and Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano also said they are  undergoing quarantine.

“I will be going into self-quarantine together with members of my family to avoid potentially infecting others,” said Abante.  “In the meantime, I will continue to perform my duties as both legislator and pastor, and I thank our Almighty God that technology today allows me to do so.”

“We ask the public to join us in praying for the quick recovery of Rep. Yap and all those who have contacted Covid-19, and urge everyone to continue praying for our country,” said Abante.

Albano said he worked closely with Yap in fixing the new law to defeat COVID-19. “I have to go into serious self-isolation again for 14 days!” Said Albano. “Cong Eric and I worked closely together to fix and amend this bill with everyone else. I practiced social distancing with everyone there, but I had my mask off at times when we were all eating and working.”

Aside from Yap, Albano said another colleague of them that he did not name was tested positive.

“We bravely went to work and 2 of our congressmen are now positive with Covid-19, 2 congressional staff have died, many more are PUIs (persons under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring),” said Albano. Aside from Cayetano, Romualdez, Defensor, Villafuerte, Albano, Yap, and Abante, other lawmakers who attended the special session at Batasan Complex were Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter "Sharky" Palma, Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo, Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, Quezon City Rep. Bong Suntay, Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr., Manila Rep. Manny Lopez, Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino, Cavite Rep. Francis Gerald Abaya, Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu of Batangas, Robbie Puno of Antipolo City, and Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales of Pampanga.