Senators in light banter about muting members during Zoom sessions

Published October 7, 2020, 11:04 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators on Wednesday poked fun at the alleged muting of congressmen amid the House of Representatives’ abrupt approval of the proposed 2021 budget on second reading and its suspension of session.

Members of the Senate shared a light moment in their plenary session Wednesday night after Senator Richard Gordon unconsciously interrupted the chamber’s discussion on the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon was interpellating Sen. Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the CREATE bill, when Gordon, who was attending the session via video conferencing, spoke.

“You got that?” Gordon was heard saying, apparently talking to his staff member.

Drilon then paused and asked “What?”

Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Ralph Recto burst into laughter as Gordon apologized and explained: “I just wanted to make sure that I understand the statement of the Minority Leader.”

It was then that Senate President Vicente Sotto III chimed in and jested: “We can do the — the Senate secretariat can study the possibility of doing what they have done in the House.”

“Muting the other members,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri responded.

“They can mute anybody,” Sotto continued, again prompting laughter from senators.

“Let’s study that so we can mute these guys who are opening their microphones when they are talking to somebody else.”

“Mr. President, that’s the dream of your Majority Leader,” Drilon reacted, teasing Zubiri.

Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza accused on Tuesday the House leadership of violating legislative proceedings when they approved House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s  motion to terminate their debates on the P4.506-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Bill and approve it on second reading without their amendments.

Atienza said they “were muted on Zoom and all our objections were thrown out the window”.

He posted on social media photos showing a notice that lawmakers were not permitted to unmute themselves during the voice vote on the budget measure’s second reading approval.