Press Release
May 2, 2020

Senate to adopt resolution allowing teleconferencing during sessions

Senators are expected to adopt a resolution that would allow them to hold sessions via teleconferencing and several other measures once Congress convenes on Monday, May 4.

The session resumes amid threats of pandemic corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) that killed more than 500 persons and affected more than 8,000 individuals since its break out early this year.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said that the extended quarantine in Metro Manila and other "high risk" areas would not affect the scheduled resumption of the regular session of Congress on Monday.

Due to health crisis, work schedule would be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"However, employees assigned to the plenary session or who perform session-related functions may be required to render services beyond the said work schedule," said Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica.

Sotto said majority of senators are expected to physically attend the session to pass Senate Resolution No. 372, which seeks to amend Senate rules to "allow the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings through teleconference, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means."

Fifteen senators signed the resolution. They were Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Manny Pacquiao, Grace Poe,

Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Joel Villanueva and Cynthia Villar.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson is expected to sign the resolution when the session convenes Monday.

Also expected to be adopted is a resolution expressing condolences to the family of the late Sen. Heherson Alvarez, who died of COVID-19 last April 20.

"The imposition and extension of an enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region and specified provinces, until the 15th of May 2020, and its attendant limitations should not prevent Congress from exercising its Constitutional mandate to enact laws and authorize appropriations, especially those necessary for the national government to respond to this national emergency while ensuring the safety and well-being of the affected population," part of the resolution stated.

The resolution seeks to amend Rule 11 and Rule 14 of the Rules of the Senate on the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings allowing the Senate, with the consent of the House of Representatives, to "convene and hold session through teleconference, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means, using appropriate information and communications technology systems, due to force majeure or the occurrence of an emergency which may prevent the convening of the Senate or the physical presence of its members in the session hall."

The resolution also mandated the Senate secretary to "recommend the appropriate information and communications technology system and, upon the Senate President's approval, oversee the setting up thereof."

The Senate secretary was also urged to "provide for relevant safety measures to protect the integrity the plenary session and committee hearings, the security and reliability of the technology used, and the proper archiving of the audio-visual or electronic recording of the sessions and hearings as part of the records of the Senate."

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