Zarate withdraws ‘yes’ vote for ‘Better Normal Bill’
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate has withdrawn his “yes” vote for the passage of the “Better Normal Bill” that was recently approved by the House of Representatives.
In a letter to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano dated August 11, Zarate formally requested the withdrawal of his support for House Bill No. 6864 or “An Act Establishing Public Health and Environmental Standards and Safeguards for the Better Normal in the Workplace, Public Spaces and Communities Toward a Sustainable Recovery from the Coronavirus Disease-19 Pandemic.”
“While we recognize that none of the old must remain as we face the aftermath of this pandemic, upon further scrutiny and assessment, we found some major provisions in the approved bill to not be in accord with our party principles,” Zarate said in his letter.
The lawmaker specifically pointed out Section 6 of the bill, which prohibits public gatherings.
“The prohibition on gatherings, we submit, impinges on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of our people to express themselves and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” Zarate said.
“In these days that the freedom of speech and expression are besieged, we cannot, in good conscience, support acts that we believe might only further curtail the said rights,” he added.
The lower chamber recently approved the Better Normal Bill with 242 affirmative votes.
The bill makes mandatory several health measures such as the wearing of face masks in public spaces and workplaces and observance of physical and social distancing as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
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