Senate adopts resolution on teleconferencing amid COVID-19 crisis

Senate adopts resolution on teleconferencing amid COVID-19 crisis
Senate President Vicente Sotto III formally opens Monday’s session, May 4, 2020, after a two-month break.
Senate PRIB / Henzberg Austria

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday amended its rules to allow the conduct of teleconferencing for its sessions, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of stringent measures to curb its spread.

Fifteen senators were physically present at the resumption of Congress session on Monday, May 4.

In the session, the senators adopted Resolution No. 372 to allow them to join sessions through teleconferencing during national emergencies, which may be determined by the Senate.

Fifteen senators, led by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, filed the resolution on April 27 seeking to amend Senate Rule 11 Section 22 and Rule 14, section 41.

It seeks to allow the conduct of committee meetings or hearings “through teleconference, video conference or other reliable forms or remote or electronic means, using appropriate information and communications technology systems in case when there is force majeure or occurrence of an emergency which may prevent the senators from physically attending the committee meetings or hearings.”

The following senators were physically present at the session:

  • Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto
  • Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri
  • Sen. Nancy Binay
  • Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
  • Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
  • Sen. Christopher “Bong”Go
  • Sen. Richard Gordon
  • Sen. Panfilo Lacson
  • Sen. Lito Lapid
  • Sen. Manny Pacquiao
  • Sen. Grace Poe
  • Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
  • Sen. Francis Tolentino
  • Sen. Joel Villanueva

Other lawmakers joined the session “virtually.”

Sen. Leila De Lima, who is detained at the police headquarters for drug charges, was not allowed to join the session.

The teleconferencing sessions will not apply to Senate committee inquiries in aid of legislation, Sotto said, noting a separate resolution was filed for such hearings.

Before it held its session, the Senate subjected 500 of its workers to rapid test for COVID-19 where at least 14 tested positive. — Kristine Joy Patag with report from The STAR/Paolo Romero

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