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House ‘virtual session’ eyed if danger of COVID-19 stays

/ 04:45 PM April 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives may consider conducting sessions virtually if the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) persists once lawmakers return from their two-month break, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday.

Cayetano was asked how the lower chamber of Congress would deal with remaining priority measures should there be an extension of the imposed enhanced community quarantine across Luzon.

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“We are all adapting. So Congress is alive. Congress will be there for you, Congress will be your voice. Congress will work day and night with the executive branch and with anyone who wants to work with us… As far as the pragmatic side, eh kung may danger pa rin sa virus, pwedeng virtual pa rin ‘yung session (If there is still danger from the virus, we can still hold a virtual session),” he said during his live Facebook presser.

Congress went on break on March 12 and will resume sessions on May 4.

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President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continue to increase.

The quarantine became effective on March 17 and will be lifted by midnight on April 13.

Earlier, however, two lawmakers proposed the extension of the quarantine.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who wanted to extend the quarantine for another two weeks, said that a “premature lifting of the ECQ would not be good for the economy.”

Meanwhile, Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice called on the government to extend the Luzon-wide quarantine for another 30 days.

He pointed out said that the gains from the current imposition of the quarantine in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19 “will all just be wasted” if an extension will not be put in place.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier said it is still finalizing parameters in evaluating if the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon would be lifted, extended or expanded.

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