Regular sessions will resume on Monday, Jan. 17 in the House of Representatives after the leadership decided to no longer extend the two-week lockdown it imposed as part of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 infection.
Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said the Batasan Pambansa complex will open despite the high incidence of COVID-19 cases among lawmakers and congressional staff.
Mendoza disclosed that at least 70 personnel and congressmen have active COVID-19 infection as of Jan. 15.
Among them are four House members – Deputy Speaker and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Reps. Alfred Vargas (5th District, Quezon City); Mikey Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga) and JB Bernos (Lone District, Abra) – who all disclosed having tested positive for the dreaded disease.
Interviewed by broadcast journalist Daniel Manalastas of PTV-4, Mendoza said only 20 percent of the Lower House personnel will be allowed to report for work starting Jan. 17.
On the other hand, the plenary hall where regular sessions are held will be open to just 50 to 55 persons, 30 of them legislators.
According to Mendoza the chamber will not accept visitors in the meantime that COVID-19 surge continues to threaten public health, specially the national capital region.
All personnel and congressmen who will be authorized to report starting Monday will have to undergo and must test negative to antigen tests before they will be allowed access to their offices.
Regular sessions were adjourned for the Christmas holidays on December 18.
The legislative calendar reveals that resumption of plenary session will start January 17, 2022 but will adjourn again for the election period starting February 4.
Immediately after resuming sessions on May 23, Congress will convene into the national canvassing board for the official vote count on the presidential and vice presidential race.