House cancels sessions amid uptick in COVID-19 cases

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2022 11:30 AM

MANILA -- The uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has caused the suspension of sessions in the House of Representatives until January 24, 2022.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco confirmed this after the House of Representatives adjourned its session on Monday afternoon.

The lower chamber was supposed to have sessions this week from Monday to Wednesday as it returns from a month-long Christmas and New Year break.

Velasco said that they have more than 70 House members and employees who have been stricken by the virus since the start of the year.

“We have decided to suspend the plenary sessions for the rest of the week because of the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases in almost every corner of the metropolis, and the House of Representatives is no exception," Velasco said.

Velasco clarified, however, that the House continues to fulfill its constitutional duties while taking restrictive yet necessary measures to create a safe environment for their members and employees.

“When we resumed session last Monday, we wasted no time to approve on third and final reading a total of 19 bills, 10 of them are of national significance, including aid for higher education, additional benefits for senior citizens, rural financial inclusion, and tax cut to help the live entertainment industry recover from the impact of the pandemic, “ Velasco said.

He said they also designated the House contingents to the bicameral conference committees that will finalize the bill establishing separate facility for high level offenders; the bill regulating the manufacture, use, packaging, distribution, advertisement and promotion of vape, and the bill on mandatory SIM card registration, among others. 

“The House will resume session on January 24 and we hope that the COVID-19 situation has already improved by then so we could finish all pending priority measures before we adjourn for the election period. “ Velasco said.

Congress will be on recess again from February 5 to May 22 for the election campaign. 

When it resumes sessions on May 23, Congress will be busy with the canvassing of votes for President and Vice-President and the remaining unfinished business of the House.

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