Gatchalian says Senate session may resume May 4, but with changes

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2020 11:43 PM

MANILA - As senators await to hear the presentation of the officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the state of COVID-19 crisis in the country, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday said he believes the Senate will resume its session as scheduled on May 4.

Gatchalian, however, said there may be changes with respect to the Senate's activities.
 
The changes would include the absence of Senate committee hearings, where they conduct investigations on issues, as well as allowing so many visitors inside the complex.
 
“Kami rin humihingi rin kami ng separate briefing mga senators from IATF kasi gusto rin namin malaman where we are exactly para makapagdesisyon din at makapag-bigay kami ng recommendation. Pagbalik natin paguusapan din yung stimulus program," Gatchalian said.
 
“Feeling ko hindi muna pwede ituloy yun (hearings) no. kasi ganitong mga binbin we have to call people. At 'yun ang mahirap mag nagumpisa ka magpatawag ng tao, hindi natin mako-control kung saan manggagaling ang mga tao. So I think i-limit muna mga hearings for the next two months. So pwede ka na magkaroon ng session, mga privilege speech, marami kasi kaming mga bills na nakabinbin sa plenaryo para gumalaw lang,” he added.
 
As to the idea of extending the lockdown period, Gatchalian admitted that among the biggest challenges that the government will meet, is ensuring people will continue to observe physical distancing especially in mass transport systems like the LRT or MRT.
 
Even the number of tricycle riders must also observe proper distancing, he said.
 
As to his suggestion of having military personnel enforcing lockdown protocols in communities, soldiers, Gatchalian said law enforcers can only bring short firearms if ever.
 
Gatchalian also said the lockdown brings the country an economic loss of almost P1 trillion the past one and a half months “in terms of output”.
 
“In terms of output, our economy is not moving so when the economy is not moving, we are losing.. mas concern ko yung mga taong wala talagang income. Na zero talaga ang kanilang income,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, likewise, said an additional ECQ period may no longer require another budget for the social amelioration program, since assistance is only being distributed starting this week.