House to transmit 2021 budget to Senate ahead of Oct. 28 deadline – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020   •   181

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to transmit to the Senate its version of the P4.506-trillion proposed 2021 national budget, a day before the promised date of Oct. 28, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Tuesday.

Velasco earlier said he and Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed on the date as the deadline of transmission.

The House speaker said the record-high budget was designed to further strengthen government response and stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We increased the allocation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines by more than three-fold to cover more Filipinos. We also provided extra allocation for the facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health to help improve the country’s health care system,” Velasco said in a statement.

“The House-approved version of the budget also has additional funding for the Department of Labor and Employment to aid workers displaced by COVID-19 and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for another round of financial assistance to families affected by the pandemic,” he added.

The lower chamber passed the budget bill on third and final reading last Oct. 17 after it was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The bill was approved a few days after Velasco was elected to the House’s top post following the removal of Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Quezon City gov’t, Congress to work closely to Batasan COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government and the House of Representatives have agreed to work closely to control and manage the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the lower chamber.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday said House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco have committed to provide the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) with a copy of the reported COVID-19 cases in Congress for contact tracing purposes.

To assist the House of Representatives, the city government will dispatch its mobile testing UNIT that will administer PCR swab test to its employees.

Velasco previously instructed the team in-charge to prepare a comprehensive report on the results of the mass COVID-19 testing conducted in Congress and submit it immediately to the city government.

Before Congress resumed session in November, Velasco initiated the COVID testing in the lower chamber.

“We wanted to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the Batasan Complex – House Members, employees, and even guests— while the legislative chamber carries out its constitutional duties in these critical times,” he said.

The city government earlier learned that the Lower House recorded 28 Covid-19 cases.

“Contact tracing is important so we can isolate possible carriers and to protect communities,” Belmonte said.

House names contingent to bicam panel on proposed 2021 national budget

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives said it has formed a 21-member contingent to the bicameral conference committee on the proposed P4.506-trillion nation budget for 2021.

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the contingent will make sure that the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will be signed into law before the year ends.

“We have to make sure the GAB lands on President Duterte’s desk for his signature before the year ends to prevent a reenacted spending program that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Velasco said in a statement Wednesday.

The House contingent, led by Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap, will represent the lower chamber to the bicam panel tasked to reconcile the provisions of House Bill 7727 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2021.

Yap will be joined by vice-chairpersons Deputy Speakers Salvador “Doy” Leachon and Mikee Romero, and 16 members from the majority, namely, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit, Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera, Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison.

The contingent also includes Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, Assistant Majority Leader Kristine Singson-Meehan, Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno, Deputy Speaker Jose “Lito” Atienza, Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain, Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, and Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian.

Also joining the contingent were Minority Leader Joseph Stephen “Caraps” Paduano and independent lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

The designation of the House contingent was in anticipation of the Senate approval of the 2021 GAB, Velasco said.

Senate to probe massive flooding in Luzon after recent typhoons

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A resolution that seeks to probe the “confluence of factors” that led to the massive flooding in Luzon after the recent typhoons has been filed in the Senate.

Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., the author of the resolution, said the release of water from dams due to overcapacity should have been anticipated and measures should have been done in order to prevent the released water from reaching the homes of the citizens.

“We must anticipate that the dams will release water, so dapat may mga naka in-place na infrastruktura tulad ng dadaluyan ng tubig at sasalo nito, para huwag rumagasa at manalanta ng mga kabahayan, (there should have been infrastructures in-place which can direct the waterflow away from residential areas),” he said.

In a span of three weeks, five typhoons entered the Philippines which has greatly affected low-lying areas in Luzon. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) reported Typhoon Ulysses has displaced a total of 1,755,224 persons which is an equivalent of 428,657 families in 4,543 barangays in the affected areas.

Revilla hopes to aid in the legislation of necessary actions to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future. AAC

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