Senate removes legal barriers for teleconferencing in sessions, hearings

The Senate on Monday, May 4, adopted a resolution allowing teleconferencing during plenary sessions and committee hearings, removing any question on the legality of the outcome of the meetings.

Senators participate in a plenary session on Monday, May 4, via teleconference. The Senate approved a bill on alternative learning system and adopted two resolutions on teleconferencing and honoring the late Sen. Heherson Alvarez who succumbed to Covid-19 last April 20.

With all 15 senators present approving Senate Resolution No. 372, the output on the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings through teleconference, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means could now withstand any courts of law. All senators were made co-author of the resolution.

SRN 372 amends Rule XI, Section 22 and Rule XIV, Section 41 of the Rules of the Senate to allow the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings through teleconference, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means

The proposal came in the wake of the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, mandating all citizen to be at home during the enhance community quarantine.

The resolution stated that the imposition and extension of an enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and specified provinces until May 15 should not prevent Congress from exercising its Constitutional mandate to enact laws and authorize appropriations, especially those necessary for the national government to respond to this national emergency while ensuring the safety and well-being of the affected population.

The move came after President Rodrigo Duterte declared on March 8, 2020 a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines due to the outbreak of the Covid-19.

Through the inquiry of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the conduct of teleconferencing could only be done during national emergency or man-made calamities such as war or breakdown of peace and order.

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