Congress Has Not Been Idle Amid Pandemic: Speaker

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Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said the House of Representatives has been working on several measures to boost the government’s fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic while also tackling the pending franchise of media giant ABS-CBN.

During a House hearing on the summation of discussions on ABS-CBN’s franchise, Cayetano said it is “unproductive” and “irresponsibly detrimental” to the country’s Covid-19 efforts when critics give the public a “false impression” that Congress has not been focused during the crisis or not in touch with what is happening on the ground.

“During these past months, as the whole world struggled to cope with the effects of the virus, and the entire nation convulsed with the disruption in our lives brought about by the quarantines, Congress has not been idle,” Cayetano said.

“Yes, as was required of us and despite valid reservations, we have tackled the contentious matter of the franchise application of ABSCBN. But away from the public limelight and media scrutiny, we have also prioritized the needs of our citizens in response to the current crisis,” he added.

He noted that Congress has passed into law Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, that provided PHP200 billion for the government’s social amelioration program.

He further highlighted that the House of Representatives approved several Covid-19 related measures before its sine die adjournment in June, including House Bill 6815 or the PHP1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill; House Bill 6817, or the Anti-Covid-19 Discrimination bill; House Bill 6864, or the Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities, and Public Spaces bill; and House Bill 6920, or the PHP1.5-trillion Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) bill.

He said there are 10 other pending House bills and resolutions specifically for the purpose of helping front-liners.

Cayetano particularly referred to Vice President Leni Robredo’s criticism that the lawmakers are prioritizing other matters instead of focusing on the current public health emergency.

“Hindi natutulog sa pansitan ang Kongreso (Congress is not sleeping on the job). I say this for the benefit of the vice president, who despite appearing to be clueless as to the real work of this Congress, has nonetheless felt it’s her duty to instruct this House on how it should conduct its business,” he said.

“I have directed our Press and Public Affairs Bureau to provide the Office of the Vice President with the pertinent bills for her future press statements,” he added. (PNA)

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