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Anti-terror bill takes priority as sessions resume

The amendment to the Human Security Act is among the priority measures that the Senate intends to approve with today’s resumption of sessions after Congress went on break in February for the midterm elections.

“Unless some important bill escapes me, what I know is that one of the important bills that we have to approve is the Anti-Terrorism Act,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Senate Bill No. 2204, otherwise know as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019, seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9372, or the Human Security Act by redefining the acts of terrorism that are punishable by law. The measure was sponsored by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

Sotto also mentioned the need to amend the Public Services Act, which is currently on second reading.

“You have seen the problems that we have encountered not only with telcos, with the airlines, most especially water. All these fall under the category of the Public Services Act,” Sotto said.

Senate Bill No. 1754, which amends Commonwealth Act No. 146 enacted in 1936, seeks to address the confusion in the definition of a public utility and public services, which will result in more choices, better services, and lower prices for the Filipino consumer.

The amendments to the Public Services Act, he said, would address the issues on water, air transportation and power.

Sotto also expressed hope that the Medical Scholarship Act, which he authored, will be given equal priority in the last three weeks before the Senate adjourns sine die on June 7. The measure is currently pending in the Senate committee on health and demography.

“We have a few doctors in the Philippines who go to the barrios. The reason—it’s expensive. So if we give for free the cost of education for doctors in both private and public medical schools, there will be more doctors,” Sotto said.

The proposed Medical Scholarship Act measure seeks to address both issues of scarcity and uneven distribution of physicians in the country through the granting of scholarships to deserving medical students provided that they would serve the country for five years.

Several proposed priority measures including the Budget Reform Act, Rightsizing the National Government Act, the Salary Standardization Law, the Reformation of Children in Conflict with the Law are up for second reading. Measures seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the country’s transportation woes, such as the National Transport Act and theTraffic And Congestion Crisis Act are also pending on second reading.

Other priority measures such as the Mindanao Railways Authority, the Unified Uniform Personnel Retirement Benefits and Pension Reform Act, and the Value for Money Procurement Act are pending in their respective committees.

Meanwhile, the House of Represenatives is committed to passing more pending legislative bills amid hopes to muster a quorum in the remaining nine session days.

The outgoing 17th Congress is returning to work today after the midterm poll.

“We are committed to approve more pending measures for as long we can muster a quorum,” Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fred Castro said.

The 17th Congress has until June 7 to hold session, but is expected to adjourn sine die on June 5.

Leyte’s District 1 Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez renewed her appeal for the Senate to pass the Department of Disaster Resilience measure in its nine session days.

“I hope that our good senators will include the approval of the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience in their agenda,” she said.

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said if the Senate is able to approve some of those bills, the House would swiftly act on them so they can be sent to Malacañang at the soonest possible time.

READ: Anti-terror drive draws P300-million US financing

Topics: Human Security Act , Congress , Vicente Sotto III , Anti-Terrorism Act , Senate , Panfilo Lacson , House of Represenatives
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