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House to form committee on addressing COVID-19

The House of Representatives is creating a new coordinating committee to centralize its efforts in addressing the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

In a press conference on Monday, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announced that the House is putting up a "Defeat COVID-19" Committee which will serve as an advisory and coordinating body of the chamber to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"Rather than all committees functioning at the same time at hindi namin ma-manage ang tao dito, and rather than a very confrontational [hearing], we want to put a Defeat COVID-19 Committee," he said.

"It won't be a hierarchical type of committee na may chairman, it's more of a coordinating committee," he added.

The said body will be composed of various existing committees in the House, namely the Committees on Health, on Economic Affairs, on Tourism, on Trade and Industry, on Labor and Employment, on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, on Public Information, on Appropriations, on Ways and Means, on Local Government, and on Metro Manila Development.

Party-list representatives of the vulnerable sector such as persons with disabilities and senior citizens, as well the House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, House Minority Leader Benny Abante, Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Cayetano himself will be part of the new committee.

Cayetano said the House will discuss with the executive department and the private sector the feasibility of proposals on how to address the COVID-19 issue in the country.

"Maraming proposal ang mababasa niyo sa online, sa diyaryo, dini-discuss sa TV and we are for all of that but we don't want to be the kind of Congress na lahat ng propsal binigay, hindi naman feasible, hindi naman kayang gawin o kaya lalong mapapasama kesa sa mapapabuti," he said.

"So what the Congress will do is we'll be meeting the executive department and the private sector kung ano ang feasible talaga," he added.

Cayetano also appealed to the IATF to temporarily convert the 8888 hotline to a COVID-19 hotline in order to ensure that public concerns regarding the health event will be addressed.

"May nabuo nang expertise 'yung 8888 sa pagbigay sa mga departamento so baka puwedeng kung hindi urgent yung complaints, 'wag muna tayo mag complaint sa 8888," he said.

"Kung pwede ngang orderan ng ating Pangulo na anything regarding COVID-19 even 'yung less of jobs, hindi makapasok ng Metro Manila, mga LGU na nagtatanong sa procurement process, let's use that muna kasi existing na 'yung hotline na 'yun," he added.

Cayetano already said that the House will continue to function even during the community quarantine in Metro Manila but will observe social distancing.

A hearing will in fact be held on Wednesday at the House with the Department of Health taking the floor on the COVID-19 issue in the country. -NB, GMA News