Sunday, May 4, 2014

Senate to discuss pro-consumer, pro health bills

MANILA-Upon resumption of sessions on Monday, May 5, the Senate will take up various legislative measures aimed at providing economic relief to state and private workers, advancing public health, and strengthening the country's anti-graft court, among others.  

The Upper Chamber is also expected to pass on third and final reading a bill that will legally compel telephone companies to disseminate early warnings of disasters, at no added cost to the consumer or the government; as well as a legislation granting a franchise to Cotabato Light and Power Company to continue bringing electricity to some areas in Maguindanao.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon outlined some of these pro-consumer legislation which include the bills increasing the tax exemption limit on 13th month pay and other benefits, raising the allowances of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of all personnel of the Philippine National Police.
Those measures concerning military service members and the police are already in the advanced stages of legislation. The bill on the 13th month pay is still being heard in the appropriate Senate committees, but Drilon assured that it is a priority legislation in the 16th Congress “due to its direct effect to millions of Filipino workers around the country.”

“It is about time that we provide relief to our very dedicated workforce, both from the government and private sectors, whose purchasing power has already shrunk due to inflation,” said Drilon.

“When we augment their buying power, the economy will also benefit because it will invigorate economic activity. But when their purchasing power continues to suffer, the economy is also hurt,” he added.  

Also on the list of proposed measures to be addressed is Senate Bill No. 27, which seeks to discourage Filipinos from smoking by requiring all tobacco products to bear pictures illustrating the ill-effects of smoking. Drilon and Senator Pia Cayetano are authors of the bill.

Likewise, the Senate also seeks to tackle Senate Bill No. 2138, which seeks to amend the Sandiganbayan by improving its systemic frailties and to hasten the disposition of cases in the anti-graft court.  
Drilon said the Sandiganbayan Bill is of the “utmost importance,” given  public sentiment against corruption in the highest levels of government. He said the enactment of the proposed legislation into law is vital in enabling faster and efficient prosecution of graft and plunder cases against erring public servants.

“SBN 2138 will be crucial in enforcing a speedier promulgation of cases involving corruption, thus helping create a system of deterrence where those who attempt to misuse public resources can expect to be immediately dealt with justice,” he said.

Other bills to be addressed on the floor include SBN 2042, which seeks to prohibit the development, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons in the country; SBN 914, which would regulate and modernize the Philippine’s practice of chemistry; SBN 2055, which seeks to regulate the practice of forestry; and SBN 2103, which seeks to regulate practice of metallurgical engineering in the country. Senator Cynthia Villar is also expected to sponsor a bill that will extend the Philippine National Railway's charter. 

Drilon said that the senators are expected to submit throughout the next few weeks a large number of committee reports to the plenary for deliberation, thus putting these on the path to becoming a law.


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