Sunday, July 27, 2014

Senate resumes session, focuses on education, fiscal bills

MANILA-The Senate resumes its session on Monday, July 28, with the opening of the 2nd Regular Session of the 16th Congress, as Senate President Franklin M. Drilon vowed that the Upper Chamber “will endeavor to bring back the people’s faith in this institution as a bastion of our democracy.”

The senators, headed by Drilon, will proceed to the House of Representatives in the afternoon for a joint session of Congress to hear the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“In our 1st Regular Session, the Senate has shown a strong resolve to fulfill its duty to the nation, with fervor and determination. Amid the issues that confront us, we have persevered and continued to discharge our duties to the Republic, with our commitments and vows to the people serving as the guiding light on the road to recovery and redemption,” Drilon said.   

The Senate had approved more than 19 bills and 41 resolutions during the 1st Regular Session of the 16th Congress. It had also concurred in the ratification of three international treaties and adopted 44 resolutions.

The Senate committees, subcommittees and joint congressional oversight committees had conducted 352 public hearings and technical working group meetings on 806 bills.

As it resumes working on priority bills, Drilon said that the Senate “must not lose sight of our ultimate goal, which is to provide a better life for each Filipino; a life that is not wanting in choices and opportunities.”

Drilon said the Senate will pass on third and final reading four bills that will increase and democratize access to education. These are Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2274, which seeks to expand access to education through open learning and distance education in tertiary levels of education; SBN 2272, which aims to strengthen the ladderized interface between technical-vocational education and training and higher education; SBN 2212, which promotes entrepreneurship and financial education among the Filipino youth; and SBN 2275 or the proposed Iskolar ng Bayan Act, which mandates all state colleges and universities to annually confer automatic admission and provide scholarship grants to the top 10 public high school students of their graduating class.

Also to be approved on final reading is SBN 1647 which would repeal Article 351 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes a woman who marries within 301 days from the time of her husband’s death or her marriage’s dissolution, or who marries before delivering a child from her previous marriage.
Drilon added that the Senate would also prioritize the consideration and passage of bills already in the advanced stages of deliberations such as the Barangay Officials Welfare Act, the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Apprenticeship Training Act, the Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship Act, the Open High School System Act, among others.

The Senate is also set to start plenary debates on the Competition bill and Senate Joint Resolution 2 and SBN 480, which aim to increase the subsistence and quarterly allowances of military and police personnel. 

 “We will also work to extend Philhealth coverage to senior citizens and increase the tax exemption ceiling of the 13th month pay for Christmas bonuses and other benefits for public workers from P30,000 to P75,000 so our workers can go home during the holidays without having to worry about decreases in their bonuses," Drilon said.

As agreed upon with the leadership of the House of Representatives, Drilon said they will await House action on the proposal to amend the economic provision in the Constitution to improve the country's ability to invite foreign direct investments.

He said the Senate will immediately act on the Bangsamoro Basic Law as soon as the draft version of the law is submitted to Congress.

“The Senate remains confident and committed to the cause of serving our people, no matter the challenges that this institution will face. We will continue to legislate measures that are of paramount interest and importance to our people, especially in terms of improving the quality of Filipino life, and reforming public service," Drilon said.


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