AT the resumption of session, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the House of Representatives will focus on the important legislative agenda including the priority measures of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The House yesterday resumed session with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response and vaccine-related measures high on its priority list.
It will also move to fast-track the approval of 34 legislative priorities, including Velasco’s twin bills seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS) “in times of national emergencies.”
Among the priority bills pending at the committee level are the proposed Magna Carta of Barangays; National Housing Development Act; Department of Water Resources and Services; death penalty for plunder, heinous crimes related to drugs; rightsizing of the national government; and the constitutional amendments as to economic provisions.
Meanwhile, out of the 47 legislative priorities of the House, 13 have already been approved by the chamber on third and final reading.
These include the proposed Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer or FIST Act, Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act, Internet Transaction Act and Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, which are all priority legislation of the President as mentioned in his State of the Nation Address last year.
With regards to COVID-19 response, the House Committee on Health had conducted a hearing on the government’s National COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap and the efficacy of the life-saving shots to be administered in the country.
The House chief wants to ensure that the multi-billion-peso budget allocated for inoculation will be used to procure the most effective and safest vaccine against COVID-19.
“Our goal is to make sure that every Filipino will have access to safe and effective vaccine, which is currently the best way for us to beat the virus and move forward,” Velasco said.
Congress has allocated P72.5 billion for the purchase, storage, transportation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines under the 2021 General Appropriations Act signed by President Duterte last December 28.
Another P2 billion has been earmarked for the purchase of personal protective equipment or PPE to ensure that health workers are safe as they carry out their duty of saving every patient from the virus.
Last month, Velasco announced that the House will set aside P50 million from its internal funds to vaccinate its employees and up to five members of their immediate family against COVID-19 once the vaccine becomes available in the country.
Velasco said that keeping the legislative mill running is “entirely dependent on the safety of our employees from the virus.”