MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday suspended budget debates in the chamber until November 16 after powerful winds and heavy rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses tripped the transformer powering the Senate building, causing an outage.
"I have decided to suspend the session until Monday, 10 a.m.," Sotto told reporters in a text message.
"Walang kuryente sa buong Senate kasi 3 times pumutok 'yung transformer natin sa labas malapit sa gate dahil sa lakas ng hangin at ulan," the Senate President said, citing a report from the chamber's Sergeant at Arms.
(There's no power in the entire Senate because our transformer outside the building near the gate tripped three times due to strong winds and rains.)
The typhoon also downed phone and internet lines in the Senate building, he said.
Several senators have been participating in hearings and plenary sessions through videoconferencing since March after Luzon was placed on a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate needs to pass the budget before December so Congress could finalize and submit the bill for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature before the current appropriations lawl expires by the end of the year.
Without a new General Appropriations Act on January 1, 2021, the government will be forced to spend based on the 2020 budget, which does not contain funding for programs that would help the Philippines bounce back from health and economic issues linked to the global pandemic.
At least 100,000 people have evacuated from their homes as Typhoon Ulysses battered Luzon just over a week after Super Typhoon Rolly plowed through the same area.
The typhoon is expected to leave the Philippines' largest island and barrel westward to the West Philippine Sea by Thursday midnight.