Velasco orders strict enforcement of health protocols as Congress resumes session

Billy Begas

The House of Representatives will resume session on Monday with strict implementation of health and safety protocols amid the continuing threat from the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco said these protocols are necessary to protect House members and employees as the legislative chamber “continues to fulfill its mandate to produce laws designed to improve the lives of Filipinos.”

“Now is not the time to be complacent. We needed to strengthen our health and safety protocols in the House so that we could keep the legislative mill running even in the midst of what has been described as the worst case outbreak. of COVID-19 in the country,” Velasco said.

The Chamber will intensify the implementation of the HousePass system while the plenary sessions will still be done in a hybrid way.

Under the HousePass system, a health and safety officer (HSO) assigned to each department and office can appoint staff members who will report to work daily. These staff must complete an online health declaration form to obtain a QR code.

The code will then be scanned at the entrance to the buildings of the Batasang Pambansa complex. Only authorized persons, designated by the ASS, will be allowed inside the premises.

Only 20% of the workforce in each House department and office will be allowed to report to work starting Monday, Velasco said.

An antigen test will be administered to those who physically report to work at the start of each week. People who show symptoms or who have received a positive test result should seek medical attention and self-isolate for at least 7 days, in accordance with recent guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.

Velasco said Congress has only nine sessional days to complete some priority measures before adjourning in time for the start of the campaign period on Feb. 8.

The House is expected to pass the third and final reading of the Financial Inclusion and Rural Literacy Bill (Bill 10582), which aims to improve the lives of marginalized sectors – small farmers, fishers and informal workers – bridging the huge gap to achieve financial inclusiveness.

Also the proposal to strengthen the external offices of the Elections Commission (Comelec) by creating certain posts and by upgrading the salaries of its employees.

Velasco said relevant committees will work twice as hard to finalize the proposed Magna Carta for barangay health workers and the National Housing Development Act, as well as the draft bill affecting health workers in every barangay in the country. .

He also called on the Senate to act on at least a dozen measures that have already passed the final reading by the House.

These include the Internet Transactions Bill and the Governmental Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives for Distressed Businesses (GUIDE) Act; and establishments of the Medical Reserve Corps, the Philippine Institute of Virology and the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the hiring of mental health professionals in basic education and the strengthening of the protection of the data confidentiality.

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