House opens second regular session of 18th Congress | Inquirer News
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House opens second regular session of 18th Congress

/ 10:37 AM July 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA), the House of Representatives opened Monday morning its second regular session of the 18th Congress.

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Presiding over the hybrid hearing was Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who opened the session at exactly 10:25a.m., with some of the members of the lower chamber physically present at the Batasang Pambansa while the others attended through videoconferencing.

Previously, the House and the Senate would open its session in the morning before Duterte delivers his speech in the afternoon.

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After their respective sessions, senators would travel from Pasay City, where the Senate is located, to the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

Due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, however, only a limited number of lawmakers were invited to physically present at Batasang Pambansa to witness Duterte’s address to the public.

Health protocols were set in place such as RT-PCR and rapid testing requirement for those physically attending the annual event as well as the mandatory wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing.

House Administrative Department Deputy Secretary General Dr. Ramon Ricardo Roque earlier said that health screening, checking of body temperature, disinfection and submission of health declaration forms be observed at all building entrances.

Persons with temperature reading of 37.5 degrees or higher will be denied entry and instead be redirected to quarantine tents attended by medical personnel, Roque said.

Priority legislation in House

For the second regular session, the lower chamber is looking to focus on “lives and livelihood” especially in light of the pandemic that has affected millions of Filipinos.

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Speaker Cayetano earlier said that the House is looking at COVID-response-related measures such as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2, as well as the proposed Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) Act and the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020.

Further, Cayetano said that the House will also work on the 2021 budget starting August.

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said that the lower chamber will work hard to duplicate its fast approval of the 2020 budget last year.

Romualdez said that, in record time, the House approved the 2020 national budget on third and final reading on September 20, 2019 or exactly one month after the August 20, 2019 submission of the Department of Budget and Management.

“We will work hard this year to accomplish our mission to duplicate the House’s record time approval of the national budget. We are always committed and inspired to work harder, smarter and more efficiently to expedite and improve the delivery of basic services to the people and defeat COVID-19,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez said the House will continue its deliberations on some of the priority legislation of Duterte such as the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, which is under the period of interpellations.

Other SONA priorities are the following: the proposed fire protection modernization programs, which is under committee report preparation; creation of the Department of Water Resources and Services and creation of the Water Regulatory Commission, as well as Additional Benefits for Solo Parents are both under committee/technical working group deliberations.

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte Sona, House of Representatives, Sona, SONA 2020, SONA Duterte
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