Thu. Aug 5th, 2021

MANILA — Fifteen senators on Monday filed a resolution seeking to allow the Senate to hold plenary sessions and committee hearings through teleconferencing while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is still in force to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In Senate Resolution No. 372, the senators pointed out that the imposition and extension of the ECQ in Metro Manila and specified provinces, as well as 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 Covid-19 crisis while ensuring the safety and well-being of the affected population.

The resolution thus sought to amend Rule XI, Section 22 and Rule XIV, Section 41 of the Rules of the Senate.

Under the amended rules, Senate committees “may conduct meetings or hearings through teleconference, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means,” using appropriate information and communications technology systems “in case, when there is force majeure” or occurrence of an emergency “which may prevent senators from physically attending the committee meetings or hearings.”

The same rule will apply for plenary sessions.

SR 372 instructs the Secretary of the Senate to “recommend” the appropriate ICT system that would be used, and oversee its setting up.

The Secretary of the Senate shall also provide for “relevant safety measures” to protect the integrity of 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.

The resolution was signed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Ronald Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Manny Pacquiao, Grace Poe, Bong Revilla, Joel Villanueva, and Cynthia Villar. (PNA)

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