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House suspends sessions as COVID-positive employees increase

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
House suspends sessions as COVID-positive employees increase
House secretary general Jose Luis Montales said this period will also “allow (House) members to focus on Bayanihan 2 and to give the committees ample time to conclude their hearings and finish their reports on priority measures.”
Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has decided to suspend the chamber’s sessions temporarily as cases of employees being infected by the coronavirus disease 2019 have reached 44 since mid-March.

House secretary general Jose Luis Montales said this period will also “allow (House) members to focus on Bayanihan 2 and to give the committees ample time to conclude their hearings and finish their reports on priority measures.”

“The House leadership has decided not to hold plenary session on Aug. 17 and Aug. 18. The Committee on Rules will open then close the sessions,” the House official announced yesterday to journalists covering the House through Viber.

“The House leadership encourages committees to hear all priority measures via Zoom this week (Aug. 17-21) so that plenary can take them up last week of August (24-31) and start budget hearings on first week of September,” Montales added.

Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero urged members of the bicameral Senate-House conference committee on the proposed Bayanihan 2 (We Recover as One law) to increase the planned financial assistance for teachers from P300 million to P5 billion.

“P300 million will not go a long way in easing the suffering of at least 1.2 million teaching and non-teaching staff of private and public schools that we want to help,” the president of the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. said.

The congressman from 1Pacman party-list said about 500,000 teachers and administrative employees of private schools badly need assistance from the government, “as they have been without jobs and income since March, when lockdown measures were imposed.”

Added to that number are about 700,000 teachers of public schools, for a total of 1.2 million, excluding non-teaching personnel of the public school system, Romero pointed out.

“If we distribute P300 million equally among 1.2 million teachers and non-teachers, each will receive a measly P250 in aid. If the money is shared by the affected 500,000 personnel in private schools, each of them will get P600,” he explained.

“Clearly, we have to allocate a much bigger amount for the intended beneficiaries,” he said.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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