House records 98 new cases after COVID-19 mass testing
Robie de Guzman • December 1, 2020 • 302
MANILA, Philippines – Ninety-eight individuals in the House of Representatives tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following a mass testing conducted in the lower chamber.
In a statement on Tuesday, House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said the number represents nearly five percent of 2,000 House lawmakers and employees who underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing since November 10.
Mendoza, however, did not say how many of these individuals were House lawmakers and personnel.
“It’s the first time a mass testing was conducted in the House since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, and this happened less than one month after Speaker [Lord Allan] Velasco assumed office,” he said.
According to Mendoza, almost all COVID-19 positive cases were asymptomatic.
“All those who tested positive were directed to self-isolate to avoid passing the virus to others and immediate tracing of their close contacts was conducted,” he said.
Prior to November 10, the House already registered more than 80 COVID-19 cases since March. Almost all of them have recovered, except for two lawmakers and three employees who succumbed to the disease.
The testing laboratory commissioned by the House has reported the cases to the Department of Health, while the chamber’s in-house medical service made proper coordination with concerned Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams, Mendoza said.
The Lower House will also continue to operate under strict health and safety protocols as it coordinates with the Quezon City government for the conduct of a more extensive contact tracing, he added.
Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before they can be granted access to the offices inside the complex.
All those entering the House need to wear masks and face shields, pass through thermal scanners and disinfection machines, and observe physical distancing at all times.
House members, employees and guests are required to submit an accomplished health declaration form to inform the chamber of their health status before being allowed to enter its premises.
All offices and buildings within the complex are also disinfected daily.
The House of Representatives is conducting a hybrid session that combines physical presence with teleconferencing to tackle legislative measures.
MANILA, Philippines — Seven lawmakers who previously held key positions in the House of Representatives (HOR) coined the slogans “Back to Service” and “Bayanihan, Tapang at Serbisyo” as their newest advocacy — these also coincidentally form the acronym “BTS”.
BTS is more popularly known as the acronym for Bangtan Boys, a South Korean pop group that is considered the biggest boy band in the world right now.
Meanwhile, the newly formed BTS political bloc in Congress — spearheaded by former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano — claims that the Lower House is not in its proper order of business nowadays.
The group wants to bring focus on more pressing issues such as economic recovery, COVID-19 response and prompt delivery of government services.
“Kung inuna niya ang hearing sa vaccination at sa PhilHealth, wala tayong problema. Inuna ang Cha-Cha,” Cayetano said of his successor House Speaker Allan Velasco.
Laguna Representative Dan Fernandez echoed the same sentiments.
“Kasi very important yung problema ng pandemic and that’s the reason why wala kaming sinasayang na oras. Pero ngayon isang buwan kaming bakasyon at magsisimula ang Kongreso sa Lunes wala kang narinig na hearing,” he said.
All seven of them said they are part of a much larger group of colleagues in Congress who support their initiative.
“We are a bigger group. We have many sympathisers, supporters that are currently part of the leadership of the House. Marami kaming kasama na committee chairmen,” said Anak Kalusugan Partylist Mike Defensor.
They believe the HOR has lost its glory and they want to reinstate it through this advocacy.
“We want to bring back the House of Representative being the house of the people rather than the house of politics,” noted Camarines Sur Representative L-Ray Villafuerte.
“Pinatibay namin iyong grupo namin dahil iisa ang nararamdaman namin. Kailangang maramdaman ng mga tao na ang House of Representatives ay kasama nila sa anumang nararamdaman nila,” added Batangas Representative Raneo Abu.
On the other hand, Senior Deputy Speaker Doy Leachon defended Velasco’s push for charter change as he believes it can solve and improve the current state of the country’s economy.
“Cha-Cha is sincere to deal only with economic provisions and supported by party leaders because this is the most opportune and right time to address the high unemployment rate and closure of business as the constitutional amendments seek to address infusion of massive investment opportunities,” he said.
Leachon in a statement called Cayetano’s group “ungrateful” and “selfish”.
He said Cayetano should have been thankful that Velasco did not touch the “bloated budget” that the former inserted and crafted into the 2021 national budget.
“Moreover, Speaker Velasco, despite their demeaning personality attacks on him, didn’t even raise a finger for 15 months and just waited for the right time to assume as the head of Congress based on the term-sharing agreement. Yun ang tularan nila- maginoo,” Leachon said.
“Their BTS launch is insignificant as to derail the Velasco’s legislative agenda because the current leadership under Speaker Velasco has earned the respect of the members of the supermajority because they lucidly see a decent man, not vindictive, working leader who has also a gentle heart to feel the needs of the House members. Hindi barkadahan lang,” he added.
Leachon advised the group not to ride on the popularity of the K-pop group BTS because their acronym might end up standing for: ‘Bitter Talaga Sila.’ MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to suspend the increase in the premium contributions of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) scheduled for this year.
“We laud President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for suspending the increase in PhilHealth premium contributions amid the COVID-19 crisis,” Velasco said in a press statement.
“The President has once again proved his sincere and genuine regard for the welfare of the Filipino people, especially in this time of pandemic,” he added.
Duterte on Monday night said the PhilHealth premium hike should be deferred amid the global health crisis.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go earlier said the president expressed willingness to sign a measure that will hold off the contribution hike, and approve additional funds for PhilHealth.
Under the Universal Health Care Law, the state insurer’s monthly rates will increase to 3.5% in January 2021 from 3% last year.
Velasco said the House of Representatives is ready to review the Universal Health Care Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, particularly the provisions on incremental premium rate hike for direct PhilHealth contributors.
“We urge the PhilHealth and the Department of Health to work closely with the legislature to ensure that our citizens and hardworking Filipinos will not further be exposed to this unnecessary burden while still grappling with the pandemic,” he said.
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.