Senate vows to approve major priority bills before adjournment

With one week left before the sine die adjournment of the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress, the Senate is expecting to give its third reading approval on three more priority bills of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council.

These are the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act, the Regional Specialty Centers Act, and the Maharlika Investment Fund Act, which has been certified urgent by Malacañang.

Alongside these priority bills, the Estate Tax Amnesty Act is also set to be approved on third reading.

Once these bills are adopted by the House of Representatives or approved in the Bicameral Conference, they will be sent to Malacañang for the President’s signature together with the measure on the Condonation of Unpaid Amortization and Interests of Loans of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.

If the four abovementioned priority bills are signed into law, the First Regular Session will have produced seven priority measures of the administration, including the SIM Registration, the Act Postponing the Barangay Elections, and the AFP Fixed Term Law, which have already been passed into law.

“I am proud to say that the Senate has performed very well for the First Regular Session, which typically tends to have a slow start in any Congress, because we are essentially starting from scratch and studying all of the bills anew,” said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

“With the Senate being composed of twenty-four republics, we have to hear everyone’s perspectives out, toward the betterment of our measures. Thankfully, we have all developed a great working relationship with one another, and we have been able to give due time for everyone to carefully debate and deliberate on all the measures that go through our committees and the plenary.”

“And now that our Senate committees have really gone into full swing, and been churning out more measures for plenary deliberations, then we can look forward to an even more productive Second Regular Session.”

Overall, the Senate has thus far produced six bills into law, four of which are of national application. At the moment, sixteen bills are awaiting the President’s signature, including amendments to the National Cultural Heritage Act.

Three bills are pending conference committee, including the act Standardizing and Upgrading the Benefits for Military Veterans and the One Town, One Product Act.

Six bills have also been approved by the Senate on third reading, and are now pending in the House of Representatives, with four more set to be approved on Monday, including and the Estate Tax Amnesty Act, which was approved on second reading in the Senate last week, right after the House of Representatives transmitted it to the Senate a few weeks prior.

“We know that there is a lot more work to be done, and we are committed to seeing the rest of the priority bills through, as soon as we come back,” Zubiri assured.

Apart from the Maharlika Investment Fund Act, eight more LEDAC priority measures are already in advanced stages in the Senate, with the followings bills pending second reading approval: the Ease of Paying Taxes Act; the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers Act; the Act Institutionalizing the Automatic Income Classification of Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities; the New Philippine Passport Law; amendments to the Public-Private Partnership Act; the Internet Transactions Act; the Mandatory ROTC Act; and the Center for Disease Control Act.

“The Senate will continue to prioritize the quality of our measures over the speed of our performance or the quantity of our output, but we do expect to be able to devote more time to our plenary duties, now that most of our major Commission on Appointments (CA) work has already been dealt with.”

The Senate President said the CA duties of the thirteen senators, which consumed much of their morning schedules, made it a challenge for them to work out the schedules of the Senate.

“But we are nevertheless proud of what we have been able to accomplish without sacrificing the quality of our bills, and we are ready to get right back to work in the Second Regular Session.”