MANILA, Philippines — The Senate will remain under lockdown during Holy Week as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to surge, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto said even a “skeletal” workforce would not be allowed in the Senate building in Pasay City during the Holy Week, unlike in previous years.
“During Holy Week, usually, we really don’t require employees to report to work, except for a skeletal staff. This time, we will not allow a skeletal workforce. This is really a lockdown,” he told reporters in Filipino in an online interview on Monday.
The Senate has been under lockdown since last week, with plenary sessions suspended until Wednesday, Mar. 24.
“Actually, this weekend, the Senate was fully sanitized and disinfected. Another sanitation and disinfection will be done because we will resume on Wednesday. Starting Thursday, even though Holy Week is not until next week, the Senate will already be on lockdown,” he said.
“After Holy Week, on Monday, April 5, we will only allow a skeletal workforce.” he added.
The Senate will hold a plenary session this Wednesday to pass “important” bills that need to be approved before Congress goes on break later this week, he said.
Congress will resume sessions on May 17.
“Even though we will resume on Wednesday, it doesn’t mean that we will allow 50 percent or 40 percent of the workforce. No. It’s almost a semi-lockdown. It will be just two or three from the secretariat, two or three from the sergeant-at-arms,” Sotto explained.
“Even our own staff will not be allowed. No more senatorial staff.” he added.
Hearings of the Commission on Appointments (CA) in the Senate will also be held before the afternoon session so that the nominations, promotions, and ad interim appointments of some senior military officers and foreign affairs officials will not be bypassed, according to the Senate president.
On Wednesday, he said there would be CA hearings because it would the last day the CA could hold proceedings before Congress goes on break, he said.
On Monday, the Philippines logged an all-time high daily tally of 8,019 additional cases, pushing the country’s total to 671,792. Of this number, 80,970 are active cases.
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