Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he would not allow the “election fever” to paralyze work in the Senate since there are still important legislations remaining on their agenda with the 16th Congress ending in July 2016.
He said that the Senate will maximize the remaining months in session to focus on these priority legislations.
“Even if the 2016 elections are fast approaching, we are not done yet and the public can expect more laws to be passed for their benefits and to address their most pressing needs,” stressed the Senate chief.
Upon the resumption of Senate session on Jan. 18, 2016, he said the senators will act on 35 bills including the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act.
He said they will also resume work on 67 other legislation pending on second reading, such as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and Public-Private Partnership Act.
He attributed the gains made in the 16th Congress to a strong and vibrant working link between the executive and legislative branches that resulted in the passage of many landmark legislation which were previously stymied under past administrations.
He said that some of the laws passed under the Aquino administration were stalled under previous administrations such as the Philippine Competition Act, the amendments to the Cabotage Law, as well as the Graphic Health Warning Act and the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law.
“These are laws that we thought would never see the light of day. But thanks to the close coordination between the leaderships of the Senate and House of Representatives, we were able to steer the passage of several landmark measures, and some of them were part of the common legislative agenda that was defined at the start of this administration,” Drilon said.
Pointing to the Philippine Competition Act and the amendments to the Cabotage Law, Drilon said, “these economic laws are among the milestones of the 16th Congress.
Meanwhile, the amended Cabotage Law (RA 10668), allows foreign-flagged ships to call at multiple ports within the country, to bring down costs of products.
Drilon said that the Congress also passed this year the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (RA 10708) to make transparent the fiscal incentives being issued by the government to the private sector, and the Strategic Trade Management Act (RA 10697) to impose stricter controls on the transfer of dual-use goods and technologies which may be used for weapons of mass destruction.
Congress also enacted RA 10564 to strengthen the campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the country and ensure its compliance with international obligations and standards; as well as the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (RA 10659).
Drilon said that the Congress has addressed the most-pressing concerns regarding the country’s educational system. He said the Congress passed six major laws—three were passed in 2015 —to widen access to education and help poor but deserving students earn a degree. These include the Open High School System Act (RA 10665), the Unifast Act (RA 10687), and the National Athletes, Coaches, and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act (RA 10699).
In 2014, Drilon noted that the Congress passed the landmark “Iskolar ng Bayan Act” (RA 10648) to give automatic admission and provision of scholarship grants by all state colleges and universities to public high school students who belong to the top 10 places of their graduating classes, as well as the Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647) and the Open Learning and Distance Education Act (RA 10650).
Last year, the Congress passed the Mandatory Philhealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens (RA 10645), which entitles all senior citizens to make use of Philhealth benefits for their medical expenses; and the law (RA 10649) that doubles the burial assistance for military veterans from P10,000 to P20,000.