Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Drilon rallies Senate for swift action on pending bills

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon urged his colleagues in the Upper Chamber to fast-track and bring at the soonest to the Senate floor the various proposed legislation which both houses of Congress agreed to pass before their sine die adjournment in June.

Drilon said that urgent attention given by Congress to the 16 bills is a reflection of the government's understanding of the real and most crucial needs of every Filipino family which are accessible education for the youth and a reliable health coverage system for our elderly.

"We must work extra hard in getting these bills enacted on time, so that our citizenry could immediately enjoy the expected legislated benefits such as scholarship program, job opportunities through ladderized education, and enhanced health care coverage especially for all senior citizens,” said Drilon.

“Remember that if we are to regain the confidence and trust of our people in the Senate which was eroded due to the pork barrel controversy, the best way is to show them that we are a performing institution that gives justice to every peso of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. We can do so by putting in a legislative performance that shows genuine service to the nation,” he added.

Topping the priority list are six legislative measures that would ensure a more accessible and quality educational system throughout the country. These include the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act” authored by Senate Majority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano which mandates all state universities and colleges to provide automatic admission and scholarship to top 10 graduating high school students across the country, and the National Student Loan Program which would tap banks and lending institutions to grant loans to financially-challenged college students.

The Congress will also institutionalize the open distance education in the country through the Open Learning through Distance Education in Post-Secondary Education and Tertiary Levels and Open High School System for Out of School Youth bills.

The Congress also agreed to pass a bill instituting a ladderized education for students taking up technical and vocational (tech-voc) courses aimed at integrating tech-voc education and higher education and creating more job opportunities for skilled graduates.  

It likewise plans to institutionalize the establishment of special education centers throughout the country “to address the special needs of differently-abled students.”

"The Congress recognizes the need for laws that will make education more attainable for all and we can make it happen when we address the biggest barriers that hinder the delivery of education throughout the country such as poverty, distance and age,” explained Drilon.

The Senate leader rallied his fellow senators to pass the health-related bills on Congress' priority list. He cited the picture-based health warning act, amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and the expansion of Philhealth coverage for senior citizens as among the measures that “will advance the health of millions of Filipinos.”

"I share the belief that the country's elderly population must be provided with the accessible and sufficient health care that will help them in their twilight years, and we can attain it by enrolling every senior citizen in Philhealth,” said Drilon.

Under the proposed expanded Philhealth law, the government, through the National Health Insurance Fund, will shoulder the enrolment of all senior citizens in the country.

The Congress will also impose stiffer penalty for poaching and other illegal fishing activities to protect the country’s fishing industry and other marine resources by amending the Fisheries Code.

Also on the list are the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law and the extension of the Philippine National Railway’s charter, and the creation of the Quezon City Development Authority.

Lastly, the Congress is set to postpone by another year the Sangguniang Kabataan elections. 

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