Speaker: House to continue working

THE House of Representatives will continue working during the enhanced  community quarantine of the entire island of Luzon that President  Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte declared.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has told reporters that he and his  colleagues would help the administration in informing the public what  to do to avoid getting infected by and to prevent the spread of  coronavirus disease-19 (Covid-19).

“We will help through communications. We will be holding hearings but  not the usual hearings that you watch. It will be more roundtable  style, we will only have four, at most five members of Congress  present, we will only have one department at a time and we will start  with the Department of Health,” he said.

Cayetano said the House would strictly observe safety and  anti-infection protocols like social distancing.

He said an invited Cabinet secretary “will not bring more than five  people and I will ask the media to have the same arrangement so that  in a hearing room that usually fits 150 to 200 people, we will not have more the 30 to 50 people.”

He added that aside from following government protocols, such a setup  would allow resource persons like the secretary of health to  effectively communicate what he wants to tell the public about  Covid-19 and the enhanced community quarantine.

The Speaker appealed to his colleagues to just send their questions to their committee chairmen so these could be communicated to Duque and  other officials who would be asked to attend the hearings.

Cayetano said he and other House leaders would meet with  administration officials and representatives of the private sector to  discuss economic stimulus measures aimed at aiming affected workers  and businesses.

“There are so many proposals being discussed on television and in the  media. So we will be meeting with executive officials and the private sector to determine which of these are feasible,” he said.

At the same time, he asked the media to balance their reporting of  COVID-19 cases.

“We’re asking media to put into context their reports. Yes, you have  to report the increasing number (of cases), but if you can also report  those who are recovering from the disease, the positive side…the good  news, the containment and mitigation measures the government is  taking,” he said.

He urged officials being interviewed should do the same.

“Let us reassure each other, rather than lambaste each other,”  Cayetano said.