Makabayan bloc urges House to return to full face-to-face sessions

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2023 09:48 PM

The Makabayan bloc wants the House of Representatives to return to full face-to-face plenary sessions as the coronavirus pandemic wanes.

Led by House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, the bloc filed House Resolution 859 urging the House of Representatives to return to full face-to-face plenary sessions, citing the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, the constitutional principles of transparency of all acts of public officials and proceedings of government agencies, and accountability to the people of the House and all its Members.

"It is unfortunate and ironic that while the country has mandated all school age children from the youngest Kindergarten pupil to the oldest college student and all workers and employees in public and private offices and workplaces to return to pre-pandemic face-to-face reporting, this is not so with the Members of the House of Representatives," Castro said.

Castro noted that the House is still implementing Rule XII entitled “Conduct of Plenary Sessions through Electronic Platforms,” which it began to implement during the 18th Congress when the number of COVID cases are still high and many areas are in Alert Levels 3 to 5 (high to alarming case counts).

"Di ba medyo nakakahiya na ang mga batang paslit ay naka-face-to-face na mula pa nung isang taon habang ang mga kinatawan naman ay naka-Zoom pa din?" Castro noted.

"Mas mahusay sanang marerepresenta ng mga kinatawan ang mga naghalal sa kanila kung sila mismo ay nasa plenaryo at kasama sa mga debate at diskusyon sa mga panukalang batas at mga isyu na kinakaharap ng bayan," she added.

"Sana ay pakinggan ito ng liderato ng Kamara upang mas malaman din ng mamamayan ang nangyayari sa loob mismo ng Batasan," Castro said.

HR 859 said the current system that allows the attendance of members via a virtual platform skirts or defeats several requirements imposed by the Constitution.

House Majority Leader Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe, who chairs the Rules Committee, said the matter will be studied.

"As part of the legislative process, House Resolution (HR) No. 859 will be referred to the rules rewriting ad hoc committee for its consideration," Dalipe said in a statement released by the Speaker's Office.