Bebot urges House Speaker to serve as Cebu City north district caretaker

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CEBU CITY South District Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa wants House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to serve as caretaker of the city’s north district following the death of Raul del Mar, the legislative district’s multiple-term congressman.

Abellanosa, a partymate of del Mar in Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, wishes for Velasco to continue the projects and programs of del Mar.

Del Mar died in a Manila hospital on Monday night, Nov. 16, 2020.

Election Officer Marchel Sarno of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Cebu City North District said the House of Representatives has two options on how to go about the seat left vacant by del Mar—the House may pass a resolution calling the Comelec for a special election in the north district, or the House Speaker may appoint a caretaker for the district.

Sarno said if the House Speaker decides to appoint a caretaker, the caretaker must be an incumbent member of the House.

If a special election will be held, Sarno said it will take time as it needs to consider the availability of funds, as well as the need to come up with guidelines on how to conduct the special election amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Abellanosa said it has been the practice in the Congress to appoint a caretaker and no longer hold a special election.

Pending bills

As to the pending bills of del Mar, Abellanosa said, the other authors of the bills, either the principal or co-authors, can always continue pushing for the bills.

Last Oct. 16, as a way to counter the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the poor, del Mar sponsored three poverty alleviation bills—House Bill (HB) 7899, which seeks the release of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) subsidy in four quarterly tranches to low-income families every year; HB 7900, which seeks to provide monthly cash subsidy to families considered “in severe hunger”; and HB 7901, which seeks to produce “healthier, brighter and taller” children by giving cash assistance to pregnant women and parents of children aged 0 to 23 months who are not covered by the government’s existing dietary programs.

Del Mar was supposed to assume the deputy speaker position in Congress this week. (JJL)