House seeks contingency plan to lessen impact of nCoV on tourism

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 4, 2020   •   908

The House of Representatives is seeking a contingency plan to lessen the effects of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat on the country’s tourism and travel industry.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on the House Committee on Tourism and House Committee on Economic Affairs to work with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in assessing the short- and medium-term effects of the 2019-nCov.

In a statement, Cayetano said the House acknowledges the government’s decision to impose a temporary travel ban from Hubei, China and other provinces of China. However, he said there should be a way to lessen its impact on tourism.

“The House of Representatives wants to work with the tourism and services sector to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed in the next few months,” he said.

Based on the report of the DOT, Philippine tourist arrivals reached 7.4 million from January to November 2019. It is 15.58% higher compared to the 6.4 million in 2018.

DOT records show that 1.63 million of the total 7.4 million international tourist arrivals from January to November of 2019 were Chinese.

The House Speaker also called on other agencies to work together in coming up with a comprehensive contingency plan to cushion the impact of the 2019-nCoV.

“The government must pool its resources to prevent this public health issue from becoming an economic crisis,” he said.—AAC

House leadership targets to ready 2021 national budget before end of November

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers at the House of Representatives (HOR) are set to deliberate on the proposed 2021 national budget of 4.506 trillion pesos this week.

Members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee including Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Acting Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno are among the invited resource persons.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they are targeting to enact the proposed budget before the end of November this year. If that happens, it will be record-breaking.

“It’s a very ambitious schedule to send it right away to the Senate because we hope that, for the first time in history, if I’m not mistaken, we can sign the budget maybe late November or mid-November as a sign of unity by our country,” Speaker Cayetano said.

The deliberations on the proposed budgets for various government agencies are set on the following dates:

Sept. 7 – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation (PAGCOR)

Sept. 8 – Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 

Sept. 9-  Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)

Sept 10. – Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Agriculture (DA).

Sept 11 – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 

Sept 14 – The Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), and Department of Health (DOH)

Sept 15 –  Office of the President (OP), Office of the Vice President (OVP), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Education (DepEd) 

The top departments with the highest allocations include:

DEPED / CHED /TESDA – P754.4B

DPWH – P667.3B

DILG – P246.1B

DND – P209.1B

DOH – P203.1B

DSWD P171.2B

DOTR – P143.6B

DA – P66.4B

JUDICIARY – P43.5B

DOLE – P27.5B

All hearings will be streamed live through the HOR’s social media accounts. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

House panel approves resolution for TV networks to air 3-hour educational programs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 19, 2020

The House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals has approved House Resolution 856 that seeks to encourage private and public television stations to air three hours of educational programs.

Alliance of Organizations, Networks and Associations (ALONA) Partylist Rep. Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez, committee chairman, said they want to support students who have limited access to the internet and other gadgets.

According to Department of Education (DepEd) Usec. for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, this will greatly help the department’s implementation of distance learning.

“Dahil diyan sa resolusyon na iyan ay mag-ooffer sa atin ang mga TV stations ng kahit 30 minuto kada araw na hindi na kailangang…kumbaga, bayaran ng DepEd, ay malaking tulong iyan (Because of the resolution, TV stations will offer at least 30 minutes every day which DepEd need not pay. It would help a lot),” he said.

DepEd’s regional offices are currently coordinating with local TV stations in airing educational shows. Meanwhile the National Telecommunications Commissions (NTC) recently released Memorandum Order 10-06-2020 which requires TV stations to allot 30 hours per month for the government to provide the needed educational services. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento).

Some lawmakers withdraw support for ‘Better Normal’ bill

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several members of the House of Representatives (HOR) oppose a provision in House Bill 6864 that prohibits mass gatherings.

Section 6 of House Bill 6864 or the Better Normal of Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020 states that public gatherings are prohibited subject to the exceptions as may be provided under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Act.

The proposed legislation was approved in the lower chamber last Monday (August 10).

Among the 242 solons who voted ‘yes’ were the six members of the Makabayan Bloc. But after reviewing the bill’s final version, they withdrew their votes.

One of them was Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate.

“Sa tingin natin ito ay taliwas sa nakasaad sa ating Konstitusyon na ginagarantiyahan ang karapatan ng mamamayan na magpahayag, i-address ang gobyerno sa kanilang mga hinaing (I believe it is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution that guarantee the people’s right to self-expresseion, to address their grievances against the government), even during the time of health crisis,” he said.

The bill primarily aims to mitigate the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in workplaces, communities and public places. The public would be mandated to wear a face shield; a face mask or an ear loop mask when they go outdoors.

Physical distancing of at least one meter would be observed.

The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) would be tasked to formulate a flexible learning program.

The bill shall improve the information and communications technology which is much needed especially this time of pandemic.

Workplaces in industrial and commercial establishments would be made to submit a management plan to their local government unit to ensure that safeguard measures are properly enforced.

Flexible working schedules would also be implemented while maintaining the 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week work setup.

Passengers of public transport would also be required to use hand sanitizers or disinfectant before entering a vehicle.

Violators of the provisions of the act shall be fined with P1,000 to P100,000 or and may be imprisoned from one to six months depending on the offense. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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