MANILA - The House of Representatives will suspend work from March 16 to April 12 to protect its employees from possible infection of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the lower chamber said Friday.
In a statement, House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales the Office of the Sergeant at Arms - Legislative Security Bureau, Finance Department, Engineering and Physical Facilities Department, and Information Communications Technology Service will adopt a rotating skeletal manpower during the suspension.
Those who are not included in the rotating workforce will be allowed to work from home, but are required to submit on time their assigned work through call, text and online communication.
"As there is an equally urgent need to ensure continuity in the delivery of public service, all HRep employees shall be on-call and may be required to report to office to perform their official duties for the welfare of the public," Montales said.
He said committee hearings, briefings, and conferences may be conducted in the Batasan Pambansa, the House's office in Quezon City, to address measures against COVID-19 and mitigate its impact.
Social distancing will be observed in these meetings, Montales added.
"These work arrangements are meant to balance our concerns for the health and safety of the HRep personnel, and our duty to the nation as public servants," he said. "We urge everyone to stay calm as we continue to take all actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in HRep and the rest of the country."
On Thursday, the Philippines announced a "community quarantine" on Metro Manila, banning travel in and out of the region, after cases of COVID-19 rapidly rose to 52 from just 3 in February. President Rodrigo Duterte also extended class suspensions and called for strict observation of preventive measures against the virus in the metro.