House likely to hold virtual sessions once it reconvenes on May 4

Mara Cepeda
House likely to hold virtual sessions once it reconvenes on May 4

'Totoo po na may danger, pero ang katotohanan, kailangang makita ng ‘yung gobyerno nagtatrabaho para sa kanila,' says Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives will reopen session on May 4 as scheduled, despite the extension of the lockdown in Metro Manila until May 15.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday, April 24, that while he could still consult with other House leaders, the lower chamber would likely conduct its session through teleconfering app Zoom, which it had used during the special session on March 23. 

“Totoo po na may risk, totoo po na may danger, pero ang katotohanan kailangang makita ng tao na may gobyerno, na ‘yung gobyerno nagtatrabaho para sa kanila. So we will take all the precautions (It’s true there are risks, it’s true there are dangers, but the truth is, the people need to see their government working, that their government is working for them. So we will take all the precautions),” Cayetano said in a chance interview in Taguig. 

The House already held its first-ever virtual session on March 23, when lawmakers spent 14 hours to debate, amend, and pass the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that gave President Rodrigo Duterte special powers to address the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

Only 20 legislators were allowed to physically attend the special session at the Batasang Pambansa, while the rest participated through Zoom.

The newly formed House Defeat COVID-19 committee has also conducted 3 virtual technical working group meetings through Zoom in the past two weeks.  

The video conferencing app allowed lawmakers and journalists alike to directly ask questions to various Cabinet members and government officials about the COVID-19 response.

Once they resume session, Cayetano said the House will prioritize checking if they would need to pass a law to institutionalize e-learning for schools, as classes remain suspended in parts of the country due to the lockdown. 

The House would also prioritize scrutinizing the P3.757-trillion budget for 2019 and this year’s P4.1-trillion budget following the “brewing disagreement” between the lower chamber and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The DBM recently issued a circular that would temporarily halt spending for a number of projects unrelated to the COVID-19 response, including start-up construction and repair of government buildings. 

“Congress will also be looking into the 2019 and 2020 budget to see if the government and DBM is canceling the right project or may algorithm o meron silang logic sa pagkukunan ng pera (Congress will also be looking into the 2019 and 2020 budgets to see if the government and DBM are canceling the right project or if there is an algorithm or logic in their process of looking for sources of money),” Cayetano said. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III already said the Senate will also convene for session on May 4, though it remained unclear if the senators would resort to teleconferencing like their House counterparts. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.