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Sotto expects physical attendance of senators on May 4 session


Senate President Vicente Sotto III is expecting "more than 12" senators to be physically present in the Senate when Congress resumes session on May 4, amid the enhanced community quarantine in effect in the National Capital Region.

"I will be there and most of the senators. I expect more than 12," Sotto said in a message to reporters on Friday.

Sotto said a caucus will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday and the lawmakers will convene for the plenary session at 3 p.m.

"We [will] pass resolutions and reference of business," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier proposed to hold the May 4 session via teleconference to prevent the risks of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission.

"The 4 May session should be held through teleconference, videoconference or other electronic means," Drilon said. "The convening and conduct of the May 4 session in the customary manner is high risk."

Citing Article VI, Section 16 (3) of the Constitution, he said the manner of holding legislative proceedings are left to the wisdom and judgment of the Senate.

Sotto, however, maintained that they may only do so after amending the Senate rules on Monday.

"I received his letter to me but I already said that the DOH IATF directive cannot supercede a Constitutional Mandate. We are authorized by the Consti[tution] to formulate our rules, therefore we may do so after we convene on Monday and agree to what the majority decides," he said.

"We will allow virtual attendance and participation after Monday," he added.

Earlier this week, 15 senators filed a resolution seeking to allow the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings via teleconference amid the COVID-19 situation.

Sotto said the media will not be allowed in the Senate premises on May 4 but the plenary session will be livestreamed. --KBK, GMA News

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