No more hybrid Senate sessions in remaining days of 18th Congress
MANILA, Philippines — With at least three session days left in the 18th Congress, the Senate will no longer allow senators to join plenary sessions online and go for a full in-person proceedings since the pandemic hit in 2020.
During Thursday’s session, Senate President Vicente Sotto III ruled that hybrid sessions will no longer be allowed beginning Monday (May 30) next week.
Before this, Sotto raised the possibility of suspending the chamber’s earlier resolution allowing the conduct of hybrid sessions.
“May we ask the Committee on Rules to look into the possibility of suspending our resolution on virtual attendance? Masamang manahin ng susunod na Congress,” Sotto asked Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, chairman of the rules panel.
Zubiri acceded, even pointing out that schools are beginning to conduct classes physically.
“Yung mga anak nagpe-face-to-face na kasi, siguro pwede na rin tayong mag-face-to-face…if the body wishes to do so, we can recall the resolution and if there is a need, if there is again a pandemic or if the number COVID go higher, we can always move to reinstall or to re-sponsor the said resolution,” the majority leader said.
“You can table the resolution and you can make a ruling that starting Monday we will no longer be doing hybrid and do face-to-face in person sessions,” he added.
It was in May 2020 when the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 372 that amended the upper chamber’s rules to allow official proceedings through teleconferencing and other electronic means in the event that a force majeure or the occurrence of a national emergency would prevent the convening of the Senate or the physical presence of its members in the session hall.
“In other words, we made use of this particular rule because there was an emergency. But there is no longer an emergency, the worst is Alert Level 1. So we have to show the people that we are working,” Sotto further said.
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