PGMA SONA to push through as House resumes preparations

June 29, 2009 9:04 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, June 29 — House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Monday said the state-of-the-nation-address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo scheduled on July 27 will push through as preparations resumed after nearly a week of work suspension as a precautionary measure relative to the reported death of one of its employees due to A(H1N1) virus.

"We are in full and close coordination with all departments, agencies and offices concerned including the Senate and Malacanang," he said.

Nograles said the week-long suspension of work in the House of Representatives "did not in anyway affect the preparations for the SONA."

He said the group in-charge for the SONA preparations is set to conduct an inter-agency meeting and consultations by next week to fully coordinate every aspect of the event with the other government agencies.

"I commend the officials for their prompt actions on the matter, and also the employees of the House Secretariat for their full cooperation," the Speaker said, adding that the work suspension allowed the sanitation of the entire Batasan complex in coordination with the Department of Health (DoH).

As of today, House secretary general Marilyn Barua-Yap said no congressman has so far tested positive for the virus and no new cases detected at the House. The Lower Chamber has at least 3,000 employees.

Congress employees were welcomed this morning by masked personnel carrying hand-held thermal scanners.

Nograles said stringent measures are being implemented to avert the spread of the virus.

All persons entering the House of Representatives are required to undergo the procedure for screening temperature as an indicator for possible A(H1N1) virus infection.

There are currently 18 thermal scanners being used in the House purchased between P18,000 to P20,000 each. Barua-Yap said Congress is planning to get more units.

She said her office is also awaiting the delivery of some 3,000 vaccines for all House employees and personnel. The Lower Chamber earlier acquired 2,000 vaccines that have been used for the employees. Each vaccine cost P300 each.

"Even if doctors say it’s safe… we want to assure the staff that we are doing everything humanly possible to protect them from the virus," said Barua-Yap.

She said those who would be tested positive for the virus would immediately be sent home for the prescribed 10-day quarantine.

Barua-Yap also said that those who will exhibit high temperature through the thermal scan would be advised not to proceed with their business in the House.

"Our doctors and our medical service continue a round-the-clock duty. The team really went out beyond its normal duties," she said as she urged each employee of the House to share the responsibility of fighting the menace.

In a regular meeting of the House Executive Committee (ExeCom) this morning, Barua-Yap said she tasked each of the numerous offices in the Lower Chamber "to take charge of our backyards. Let us do this for ourselves and not wait for others to do it for us." (PNA)

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