Senators present at budget hearings negative for Covid

    The senators who were physically present at the budget plenary hearing for the Department of National Defense (DND) all tested negative in antigen tests for Covid-19 on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said.

    MANILA, Philippines — The senators were prompted to get tested for Covid after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was also present at the time, tested positive for the virus.

    “Unfortunately the day that the Secretary [Lorenzana] was here was a day of an unusual number of Senators present in session as we had an official delegation from the Hungarian parliament present as well,” Zubiri said in a statement.

    “After learning about the Secretary’s positive COVID report, we the senators who were actively participating on the floor also had antigen test done by the Senate Doctor and fortunately we were all negative as of last night,” he added.

    Budget deliberations scheduled on Thursday were cancelled and will be resumed on Monday due to the incident.

    “This incident will allow us to review the existing protocols as a similar incident happened during the budget hearings last year when Secretary Lapeña of TESDA tested positive after the defense of his budget which also exposed Senator Bato Dela Rosa who eventually tested positive shortly after,” Zubiri said.

    “We are hoping for the kind understanding of the remaining Departments that are waiting for the defense of their budgets today. Your health and safety is our utmost priority and we apologize for any inconvenience that these delays may bring,” he added. (HMP/The MiNT)

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