Extend session until next week to pass Covid-19 bills — Rodriguez

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Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is urging the House of Representatives and the Senate to extend plenary session until next week so they can pass pending Covid-19 response bills.

His proposal is contained in House Concurrent Resolution 8, which he filed Monday seeking to amend the legislative calendar so that Congress would continue to meet up to next Friday, instead of adjourning this week.

In his resolution, Rodriguez said there are “important measures the country needs during and in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic that have to be passed by Congress.”

He said among these are the ARISE (Accelerated Recovery and Intervention Stimulus for the Economy) Act, which seeks P568 billion for this year and P650 billion for 2021; Covid-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act; the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer(FIST) Act; the CURES (Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus) Act, and Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act.

“There are other measures still pending, including various bills mandating the establishment of pop-up bicycle lanes for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Crushing Covid-19 Act and my proposal to extend the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act by three months,” he said.

Rodriguez pointed out that under Section 15 of Article VI of the Constitution, Congress “shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session…and shall continue to be in session for such number of days as it may determine until 30 days before the opening of the next regular session, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.”

He said his suggestion for the extension of the first regular session by five days is within the purview of such constitutional provision.

Under their legislative calendar, the House and the Senate are scheduled to go on their annual mandatory adjournment on Friday. However, the House usually holds session only from Monday through Wednesday.