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Solons seek mandatory face-to-face House plenary sessions

A resolution requiring full face-to-face plenary sessions was filed in the House of Representatives on the same day a measure providing funding for Charter change was calendared for final approval.

House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers party-list, House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list, and Kabataan party-list Representative Raoul Manuel sought the full face-to-face sessions in House Resolution 859.

In their resolution, the congressmen explained that the physical presence of lawmakers during plenary sessions was needed “in light of the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, as well as the constitutional principles of transparency of all acts of public officials and proceedings of government agencies and accountability to the people of the House and all Members thereof.”

"It is unfortunate and ironic that while the country has mandated all school age children from the youngest kindergarten pupil to the oldest college student and all workers and employees in public and private offices and workplaces return to prepandemic face-to-face reporting, this is not so with the Members of the House of Representatives,” Castro said in a statement.

She added that Rule XII of the House Rules, which allows plenary sessions through electronic platforms, was outdated given that the policy was instituted when the country was still under Alert Levels 3 to 5 due to the large number of COVID-19 cases.

“Di ba medyo nakakahiya na ang mga batang paslit ay naka-face-to-face na mula pa nung isang taon habang ang mga kinatawan naman ay naka-Zoom pa din?!," Castro said.

(Isn't it embarrassing that kids have been attending face-to-face classes since last year while lawmakers are still on Zoom.)

"Mas mahusay sanang marerepresenta ng mga kinatawan ang mga naghalal sa kanila kung sila mismo ay nasa plenaryo at kasama sa mga debate at diskusyon sa mga panukalang batas at mga isyu na kinakaharap ng bayan. Sana ay pakinggan ito ng liderato ng Kamara upang mas malaman din ng mamamayan ang nangyayari sa loob mismo ng Batasan," Castro added.

(The lawmakers can better represent their constituents if they are physically present in the plenary and are participating in the debates on social issues. I hope the House leadership hears our call so that the public would know how we do our work.)

Calendared con-con bill

Also on Tuesday, the House’s Calendar of Business listed House Bill 7352, which provides appropriations for the constitutional convention which will amend the Constitution, as calendared for third reading approval.

House Bill 7352 also provides a P10,000 compensation per delegate per day of attendance in con-con proceedings.

House Bill 7352 also authorizes the Secretary of the Senate and the Secretary General of the House of Representatives to take charge of all arrangements for the convening of the con-con.

The commencement of con-con sessions, on the other hand, has been set to start on December 1 this year at 10 a.m. in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives. — DVM, GMA Integrated News