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House presses fight vs covid

THE House of Representatives is expected to approve on third and final reading before adjourning this week for Christmas break twin bills seeking to extend the validity of the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget until December next year and the appropriations under the P165.5 billion Bayanihan To Recover As One Act until June 30, 2021.

The House of Representatives will pass on third and final reading House Bill No. 6656, which amends Republic Act (RA) No. 11465 or the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2020 to extend its life until December 2021 to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease-19 pandemic (COVID-19) on the country.

The House of Representatives may extend its session until Friday instead of adjourning this Wednesday if President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will not certify as urgent a substitute measure to five bills that the House committee on appropriations chaired by ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap approved last Friday extending the life of Bayanihan 2 until June 30, 2021.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez are among the principal sponsors of the two measures.

“Unfortunately, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic hit and has overwhelmed the country’s health service, disaster management facilities and information communications and technology (ICT) infrastructure, among many others. The various community quarantines imposed by the national government to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19, had also hindered any economic activity and delayed the implementation of various governmental programs, projects, activities and services,” Romualdez said in underscoring the need to extend the validity of the 2020 national budget.

In defending the extension of Bayanihan 2, Yap, one of the principal authors like Velasco and Romualdez, said the proposal will ensure consistent and efficient delivery of assistance to the Filipino people and help aid economic recovery.

“We need to extend the validity of Bayanihan 2 to help President Duterte address the pandemic,” Yap said.

Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon, a friend and ally of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) led by Romualdez as President, backed the House leadership’s decision to extend the life of two appropriations’ measures to cushion the continuing effects of COVID-19 as well as strengthen efforts at gradually reopening the Philippine economy.

“The House leadership has been working very hard to address the pandemic and the recent typhoons that ravaged the country. Extending the validity of these appropriations’ measures will improve the country’s recovery efforts,” Lagon said.

“Congress is ensuring that government agencies are equipped to deliver services to the people and boost the economic activity leading to economic growth and recovery,” Lagon pointed out.