Zubiri: Negative antigen tests so far for senators on floor for budget debates
MANILA, Philippines — Senators actively participating on the floor for the budget deliberations have negative results so far in antigen tests after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tested positive for COVID-19, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday.
The senators were tested after being informed that Lorenzana, who was present during the Senate plenary debates on the budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), tested positive for COVID-19.
“Unfortunately the day that the Secretary [Lorenzana] was here was a day of an unusual number of Senators present in session as we had an official delegation from the Hungarian parliament present as well,” Zubiri said in a statement.
“After learning about the Secretary’s positive COVID report, we the senators who were actively participating on the floor also had antigen test done by the Senate Doctor and fortunately we were all negative as of last night,” he added.
Due to the incident, all the budget deliberations scheduled on Thursday are canceled, with the debates resuming on Monday, November 22.
“This incident will allow us to review the existing protocols as a similar incident happened during the budget hearings last year when Sec. Lapeña of TESDA tested positive after the defense of his budget which also exposed Senator Bato Dela Rosa who eventually tested positive shortly after,” Zubiri said.
“We are hoping for the kind understanding of the remaining Departments that are waiting for the defense of their budgets today. Your health and safety is our utmost priority and we apologize for any inconvenience that these delays may bring,” he added.
Tighter protocols will also be implemented in the Senate.
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