BOTH chambers of Congress are set to resume sessions Monday, May 4, under a “new normal” in line with the quarantine protocols being enforced in the country to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
At the Senate, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said he and members of the Senate Secretariat with primary functions during sessions will be physically present at the session hall.
"Kailangan kong maging physically present sa lahat ng session days, Monday to Wednesday, hanggang June 5 dahil may mga procedures sa session na hindi pwedeng gawin via teleconferencing. Kailangang may mag-preside from the Senate session hall,” Sotto said.
(I need to be physically present because there are procedures that cannot be carried out via teleconferencing. Somebody has to preside from the Senate session hall.)
“And being the Senate President, I have the responsibility to ensure that all sessions are conducted as mandated by the Rules of the Senate and by the Constitution," he added.
Senators who wish to deliver a privilege speech will also be required to be physically present.
The first agenda on Monday will be the approval of proposed Senate Resolution No. 372 which seeks to amend the Rules of the Senate to allow, among others, the conduct of sessions, hearings and meetings through teleconferencing or the use of electronic platforms.
Once the resolution is approved, senators can attend sessions and hold hearings or meetings even without being physically present at the session hall or the committee rooms for the hearings and meetings.
They can sponsor committee reports, participate during the interpellation and period of committee and individual amendments, and cast their votes.
At the House of Representatives, only up to 25 members will be allowed inside the plenary hall to comply with physical distancing protocols.
The rest will participate in the session via video conferencing platforms.
The session will be streamed live through the official Facebook pages of the House and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
A bill seeking to push for a nationwide extensive job creation program, particularly on infrastructure projects, is expected to be filed on Monday by Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr.
Villafuerte, who is a member of the Defeat Covid-19 Committee technical working group (TWG) on social amelioration, said the proposed Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (Cures) Act of 2020 is aimed at stimulating the economy. (MVI with a report from JTM/SunStar Philippines)