Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Senate adjourns today, ratifies pro-education bills

MANILA-The Senate ratified three bicameral committee reports promoting education before it adjourned session today, September 24, 2014. Plenary sessions will resume on October 20, 2014. 
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said the passing of a number of pro-education legislation is seen to expand the delivery of educational services offered by the state.

On its final day of session, the upper chamber ratified the bicameral committee report for Senate Bill No. 2272, which aims to strengthen the ladderized interface between technical-vocational education and higher education. The proposed measure seeks to provide alternative methods and systems of education for working students and out of school youths. 

On Tuesday, the Senate ratified the bicameral committee reports for Senate Bill No. 2274, which seeks to expand access to education through open learning and distance education in the tertiary level, and Senate Bill No. 2275, or the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act,” which seeks the automatic admission and provision of scholarship grants by all state colleges and universities to public high school students who belong to the top ten places of their graduating classes.  If enacted into law, the bill would give approximately 80,000 graduating students access to free college education as early as next year.

Drilon said the three education bills belong to the five proposed legislation passed by the Senate since the beginning of the 2nd Regular Session of the 16th Congress that are intended to advance the reach of the national educational system, and to overcome the challenges posed by poverty, physical barriers and lack of opportunities to the educational sector.

“Since the opening of the 16th Congress last July, the Senate has passed 14 bills on third reading, and another bill on second reading, while eight other bills are currently being interpellated or amended on the floor. The Senate also passed a total of 16 resolutions and three concurrent resolutions with the House of Representatives,” the Senate chief said.

Greater Social Services

Drilon said senators also pushed for the upgrading of social services extended by the government to its citizens.

Leading such measures is the Senate Bill No. 712, which provides for the mandatory Philhealth coverage for all senior citizens, thus amending Republic Act No. 7432 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

“Under the bill, all senior citizens would only need to present valid IDs to avail of Philhealth coverage for their medical expenses, as compared to the existing law where only senior citizens classified as indigent could avail of the national health insurance program,” Drilon said.

The Senate also passed Senate Joint Res. No. 2, which seeks to increase the subsistence allowance of all personnel under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) from P90 to P150 per day, and carried over House Bill No. 694, which aims to increase the burial assistance for veterans from P10,000 to P 20,000.

Up next: 2015 budget, Bangsamoro bill

Drilon said that upon resumption of plenary sessions, the Senate will immediately focus on the passage of the 2015 national budget, and other priority legislation such as Senate Bill No. 2408, or the Bangsamoro bill.

“When we return to the Senate floor, we will act on the proposed General Appropriations Act, which we have to finish and pass by the end of the year,” Drilon said.  

Drilon said he anticipated the beginning of healthy debates for the Bangsamoro bill, which he expected to be passed the Senate within the first quarter of next year.

Drilon said the Senate would also work on the joint resolution being sought by President Aquino granting him emergency power to deal with the looming power shortage in the summer season next year.

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