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Print, radio, online journos still barred from covering Lower House under GCQ: TV lang ang pwede kay Alan!

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Print, online, and radio journalists assigned in the House of Representatives remain barred from covering inside the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City despite the relaxation of the lockdown policy in Metro Manila which is now under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

House deputy secretary-general Atty. Darren de Jesus on Monday said the media policy implemented last May is still in effect and only television networks are allowed to cover the live proceedings in the House plenary—including the continuation of the marathon hearings in the House committee on legislative franchises in connection over pending legislations that seek to grant embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise.

“Hindi pa (allowed). Same guidelines (pa rin) tayo,” said de Jesus in a text message to Politiko/Abante.

The first regular session of the 18th Congress is set the adjourn sine die this coming Thursday, June 4.

Since May 5, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano prohibited accredited House media belonging to the print, online, and radio industry from entering the premises of the Batasan complex, citing safety concerns due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

With the exception of major television networks including those from the Kapamilya network, accredited House media were advised to just monitor the daily session and House inquiries in the official Facebook and YouTube accounts of the Lower House.

Some accredited House media who requested anonymity have scored the current policy since the House leadership seems to be allegedly giving special treatment and showing favoritism to TV networks since they were the only group allowed to physically cover the House beat.

Unlike in the Lower House, the Senate earlier has completely accredited media from entering its premises in Pasay City after 18 legislative staff have tested positive from the dreaded COVID-19 disease.

Under the new normal guidelines of the Lower House, only 25 congressmen were allowed to physically participate in the plenary proceedings—exercising strict physical distancing protocols and the mandatory used of facemask inside the entire Batasan Complex.

Other congressmen were allowed to participate and vote over pending resolutions via teleconferencing using Zoom and other means of electronic voting—either through SMS, Viber and Whatsapp.

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