By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senators are gearing up for their “new normal” when they resume sessions next month.
Following their teleconference on Monday afternoon, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said senators agreed to conduct “hybrid sessions after they amend and adopt Senate Resolution No. 372 on May 4.
The resolution seeks to amend the Senate’s rules to allow the holding of virtual sessions and committee hearings during national emergencies.
Under the hybrid set-up, Sotto said senators would either be allowed to physically attend plenary sessions or through teleconferencing. Attendance in either mode will be counted.
“After we approve on Monday (May 4), quorum will be determined thru combination. [On committee] hearings, it’s up to the chairperson but teleconferencing will be allowed,” he told reporters.
Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Tuesday that the chamber was unanimous in allowing the hybrid type of sessions. The Senate, he said, could consider this set-up as their new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[This is] an innovation which can be considered a new normal due to this pandemic,” he said.
Senators Sonny Angara, Ronald dela Rosa, Francis Tolentino, and Joel Villanueva expressed support for the Senate leadership’s move.
Despite the development, Senator Leila de Lima, who is under detention, would still not be able to participate in their discussions.
“Sen. Leila is not within our jurisdiction. She is under the jurisdiction of the Courts and the [Philippine National Police],” Sotto explained.