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House can’t continue ‘abnormal’ way of passing laws via teleconferencing

/ 07:09 PM August 06, 2020
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Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — For Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, the House of Representatives should take a break from holding emergency sessions via teleconferencing once urgent anti-COVID-19 legislations have been passed.

In his letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Atienza pointed out that discussing measures—particularly controversial ones—requires thorough and lengthy debates and discussions where all members should be physically present on the floor.

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One of the measures currently being taken by the lower chamber to continue hearings and sessions amid the coronavirus pandemic is through teleconferencing applications such as Zoom.

Some of the hearings are purely online while sessions are being held in a hybrid setup—with some members physically present in the plenary while the others are attending through teleconferencing.

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“After passing these urgent anti-COVID-19 measures, we urge the leadership of Congress to consider calling a break from our emergency sessions being held through the internet via Zoom, while COVID-19 still rages in the country,” Atienza said.

“We cannot continue this abnormal way of passing laws thru the internet and via Zoom and even taking up highly-contentious and even objectionable measures like the death penalty  and charter change. Doing so would only endanger the lives of House employees and put at risk the quality of legislation we pass,” the lawmaker added.

Further, Atienza said that holding discussions through teleconferencing “greatly deprives us of the opportunity to fully participate in the debates”, particularly on controversial measures such as charter change and the reimposition of death penalty in the country.

Atienza likewise pointed out the health issues that hound holding hybrid sessions, saying that some of the members of the House have already contracted the virus.

As of August 5, there are 36 cases of COVID-19 among members and personnel of the House of Representatives.

JPV

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, deliberations, House, lawmakers, Lito Atienza, pandemic, Zoom
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