Senate of the Philippines

Due to blackouts, some senators unable to join session

Mara Cepeda
Due to blackouts, some senators unable to join session

POWER NEEDED. Several senators had to go offline during their virtual session when rotational blackouts hit parts of Luzon on June 1, 2021.

Photo courtesy of Senator Win Gatchalian's Twitter account

But the hybrid Senate session still pushes through

Three senators were forced to go offline during the plenary session on Tuesday, June 1, after rotational blackouts hit parts of Luzon.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri – who was physically present in the Senate’s headquarters in Pasay City – said that some of their colleagues who were virtually attending the proceedings had to go offline because they lost electricity at home. 

He later told reporters that Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon as well as senators Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay were the ones affected by the brownouts.

A total of 22 senators responded during the roll call at the start of the session, with 9 physically present and 13 joining via teleconferencing app Zoom.

It was Drilon who called Zubiri on the phone to inform him about the brownout. 

“I just got a call from our Minority Floor Leader. Apparently, there are several areas in Metro Manila that are experiencing brownouts, Mr. President, and some of our colleagues have gone offline because of these brownouts,” said Zubiri.

The Majority Leader then said that the session’s agenda for the day will still be followed. 

Should a senator scheduled to interpellate is called and he or she is still offline, then the lawmaker would just be called again at a later hour on Tuesday or be rescheduled for the next session day. 

Senator Win Gatchalian, who was also in the Senate, tweeted a photo of a screen showing senators’ Zoom call for the session. Only the cameras of senators Cynthia Villar, Risa Hontiveros, and Imee Marcos were on, while the rest had blank screens or were no longer in the Zoom call.

“Apparently, some of our senators who are working-from-home are also victims of this rotating brownouts. They cannot join our virtual session,” said Gatchalian.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines placed the Luzon grid under red alert for 11 hours on Tuesday as power supply thinned due to an additional plant outage.

Rotational blackouts are expected when the grid is under red alert. –

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.