MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday said the House of Representatives was willing to amend the legislative calendar and hold sessions during Congress' nearly 2-month break over Lent.
Cayetano made the announcement during his adjournment speech that capped the House session Wednesday, addressing the Senate and the Office of the President.
This came after the chamber passed on 3rd and final reading the bill creating a department for overseas Filipino workers and another bill further liberalizing retail trade.
"So I'd like to address the Office of the President and the Senate. The House of Representatives is willing to work. So if you want to change the legislative calendar and the next few weeks gusto niyo magkaroon tayo ng session at ibahin natin ang calendar, payag po (you want us to have sessions sand change the calendar, we're willing)," he said.
When he asked his colleagues if they are willing to hold sessions if necessary, Cayetano drew positive response and applause.
Cayetano also thanked his colleagues for the achievements of the House under his watch.
The current legislative calendar says both chambers begin a nearly 2 month break from March 14, 2020 to May 3, 2020.
But the legislative calendar may be amended by both Chambers through a Concurrent Resolution. President Rodrigo Duterte may also call a special session if needed.
"We decided to adjourn in accordance with the schedule, but anytime the Senate feels the same way, we can meet with them and change our calendar. If they don't feel the same way and may commitments din sila, 'yung mga committee hearings and roundtable discussions na lang ang itutuloy namin (if they have commitments, we will continue our committee hearings and roundtable discussion)," Cayetano told reporters.
On Tuesday, Speaker Cayetano already said many lawmakers will be in the country during the break amid travel restrictions over the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.
Several measures are pending in Congress: the bills renewing the broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. at the Committee on Legislative Franchises, and the CITIRA or Corporate Income Tax Reduction and Incentives Rationalization Act, which is pending before the Senate plenary.
The network's franchise expires on May 4, the same day the session of Congress resumes.