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15 senators file reso seeking to allow plenary sessions, hearings via teleconference

Fifteen senators filed a resolution on Monday seeking to amend the Senate rules to allow the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings via teleconference amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.

The fifteen senators who authored P.S. Resolution No. 372 acknowledged that while the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and other high-risk provinces has been extended until May 15, Congress shall not be impeded from "exercising its constitutional mandate to enact laws and authorize appropriations," especially those that would be needed to address the national emergency.

An amendment to Sec. 22 of Rule XI in the Senate rules was proposed to allow committee hearings through "teleconferencing, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means," in case of force majeure or occurrence of an emergency which may prevent the lawmakers from physically attending committee hearings or meetings.

Sec. 41 of Rule XIV which provides for the conduct of Senate sessions was also proposed to be amended.

Proponents of the resolution suggested that the Senate President, after consulting the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, may postpone the holding of sessions on a day to day adjournment.

The Senate President may also convene and hold the session through electronic means with the consent of the House of Representatives.

The Senate Secretary will be tasked to protect the integrity of the plenary session and committee hearings by ensuring that the technology that will be used is secured and reliable. The proceedings under the proposed system will still be part of the records of the Senate.

Lawmakers may still amend the said resolution on May 4 when they convene for the resumption of session.

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 "Bato" Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Manny Pacquiao, Grace Poe, Bong Revilla, Joel Villanueva, and Cynthia Villar signed the resolution. — Dona Magsino/RSJ, GMA News