Senate suspends sessions during two-week Metro Manila ECQ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — The Senate will have no plenary sessions in the coming two weeks as Metro Manila reverts to the strictest community quarantine level due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

At Monday's plenary session, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri said the chamber only has Tuesday and Wednesday to deliberate on bills and then it will be back on the fourth week of August. This means the postponement of scheduled sessions on Aug. 9 to 11 and Aug. 16 to 18.

Zubiri briefly discussed the suspension as he made an appeal to colleagues to finish interpellations on the bill amending the Public Service Act — one of the priority measures of both the executive and the legislative branches.

"So, when we get back at the end of the month, the fourth week of August, possibly we can already tackle the amendments," Zubiri said.

In an earlier text message to CNN Philippines, the majority leader said senators had decided to push through with the plan to suspend sessions on August 9 to 11 -- the first working days with Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine. The capital region will be under ECQ from Aug. 6 to 20 following yet another surge in infections due to the dreaded Delta variant.

It has only been a week since the 18th Congress reopened its third regular session on July 26 following the scheduled break of nearly two months. During the suspension, there were no plenary sessions, but committees could still hold meetings and hearings.

Zubiri earlier told reporters that committee hearings may also not be possible during the two-week ECQ because staff members like stenographers could not go to the Senate building in Pasay City to access the necessary equipment.