Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III reported a productive Senate in the first two and a half months of the year with two bills enacted and 45 other bills and three resolutions pending passage before Congress takes its first recess.
Pimentel lauded colleagues for working overtime to fast-track the enactment of laws that would improve the lives of Filipinos and address their most pressing concerns.
“We have been making the most out of our time to fulfill our mandate and push for measures that will lay the basis for the development and progress of our country and people,” Pimentel said.
Passed into law by both houses on March 15 were the bills extending for 25 years the franchise of TV company GMA Network, Inc. and mobile service provider SMART Communications, Inc..
The Senate bills approved on third reading seven bills and sent them to the House of Representatives for concurrence. These bills are the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act; the Free Higher Education For All Act; the Philippine Food Technology Act; the PNP Reorganization Act; the Speech Language Pathology Act; the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017 and the National Tech-Voc Day.
Approved on second reading in the plenary level are the following 3 bills: the Revised Penal Code (amendments); the Mental Health Act of 2017 and the Philippine Innovation Act.
There are 30 bills in advanced stage at the plenary level: COLA; the Philippine Criminology Profession Act of 2016; Survivorship Benefits (OSG); the Philippine Occupational Therapy Law of 2016; PERA; the Teachers the Supply Allowance Act of 2016; the Omnibus Election Code; the Security of Tenure; the People’s Freedom of Information Act of 2016, the Expanded Anti-Wire Tapping Act of 2016; the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development; the Shield Law; the Anti-Money Laundering Act; the Government Physicians’ Salary Increase; the Anti-Discrimination Act; the Trabaho Center in Schools Act; the Pagkain Pinoy Para sa Batang Pinoy; the Corporation Code of the Philippines; the Sagip Saka Act; the Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act; the New Central Bank Act; the Philippine Boxing Commission Act of 2017; the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2017; the Refusal of Hospital (Emergency Cases); the Telecommuting Act of 2017; the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act; the Apprenticeship Training System Act of 2017; the Resettlement Program Act; the Rightsizing the National Government Act and the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2017.
2 bills are due for sponsorship: Philippine Passport Act and the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage (PWD).
Meanwhile, the Senate adopted the following resolutions: Expressing the concurrence of the Senate in the accession to the Paris Agreement; the Ratification of the Agreement between Japan and the Republic of the Philippines on social security and the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Pimentel said the drive for federalism remained the highest priority for the Senate once both Houses of Congress resume session in May.
“We will continue to push for the legislative mechanism which will start the process of shifting to a federal government, in order to bring solutions to some of the country’s most long-standing ills and problems,” he said.