DISRUPTED.  Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, other senators, and personnel evacuate the Senate building Wednesday afternoon (December 7, 2022) after a 5.3 quake hit many parts of Luzon. They resumed work after an hour.  (PNA)

MANILA – Work at the Senate was temporarily suspended after a magnitude 5.3 earthquake rocked many parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila at past 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The quake occurred while the Commission on Appointments (CA) was deliberating the confirmation of Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr.

Solidum was a longtime director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) before he was appointed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos as DOST Secretary.

Phivolcs is an attached agency of DOST.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri ordered that all personnel, including the senators and visitors, must vacate their respective offices so the Bureau of Fire and Protection could immediately inspect and assess if the building is still safe for occupancy.

“We are situated in a reclaimed area. We just want to be sure that we are safe, maybe after an hour we can return to work” Zubiri said.

Zubiri was joined by Senators Robinhood Padilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino, Nancy Binay and Loren Legarda at the ground premises of the GSIS Building minutes after the quake hit various parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces in Luzon.

Phivolcs said the quake struck 1:05 p.m. with the epicenter reported at Tinaga Island in Camarines Norte, the same time when CA was grilling Solidum.

“Nagparamdam lang ang lindol kay Secretary Solidum na hoy nandito pa kami,” (The quake is reminding Secretary Solidum, that hey, we are still here) Zubiri said in jest.

A senate employee, Medy Ventura, was rushed to the hospital due to high blood pressure. She is now in stable condition.

The Senate resumed work after an hour and Solidum’s appointment was finally confirmed. (PNA)