09 June 2011

First Session Accomplishments of the Philippine Senate

The Senate of the 15th Congress was able to pass at least 14 bills of national application on third and final reading on its first regular session before it goes into sine die adjournment.

In his closing speech Wednesday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile cited as among the Senate’s accomplishments the passing of the Palace-backed Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) Governance Act of 2011, now Republic Act 10149, and the bill synchronizing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the 2013 national elections.

Enrile also cited the approval of General Appropriations Act of 2011, now Republic Act 10147, in record time to prevent government from working on a reenacted budget.

He said the passage of the GOCC Governance Act, the first major reform law of the Aquino administration, is an offshoot of the Senate’s legislative inquiry into the excessive and scandalous allowances and perks of board members of state owned firms and government financial institutions.

The GOCC reform bill was a measure filed by administration ally Sen. Franklin Drilon who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

“I would like to take this opportunity to commend the brilliant mind of our colleague, former President of the Senate, the distinguished senator from Iloilo, Sen. Franklin Drilon for crafting the law: for overseeing its passage in the Senate and to commend as well the wisdom, patriotism, and vision of the members of the Senate in pushing this piece of legislation which is timely and needed in order to arrest a cancer that has actually sucked the energy of the nation,” Enrile said.

The Senate leader also commended Drilon for crafting and sponsoring the law that sought to postpone the August 8 elections of the ARMM region that was approved after intense and heated debates during committee hearings and in plenary session.

Enrile defended the ARMM bill which he admitted was a “delicate” measure due to its “political overtones and undertones.”

“This law will hopefully pave the way for the much needed political and economic reform in the region of Muslim Mindanao. This law is not anti-Muslim. It does not derogate the importance and the necessity of autonomy for Muslim Mindanao. It does not impair the autonomy that was granted to Muslim Mindanao. It does not reduce the decrease or in any manner dilute the powers of the autonomy in Muslim Mindanao,” Enrile said.

“It simply wishes, and rightly so, complies with the Constitution, that there must be a synchronized election for national and local elective officials of the land. It was a law that was intended to correct a constitutional anomaly,” he said.

“Some members of our society misunderstood it because they confused autonomy with election. Nonetheless, I think the people will understand in due time the importance of this law,” he further said.

The Senate also approved Senate Bill No. 2846 which extends the implementation of the Lifeline Rate that benefit people who consume 100 kilowatts or less of electricity a month.

The upper chamber also passed on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 2802, or the Proposed Early Years Act which institutionalizes a national system for early childhood care and development.

SB 2802 recognizes the early years from zero (0) to six (6) as the first cycle of educational development. The bill also strengthens the Early Childhood Care and Development Council, and renames the Day Care Center as Child Development Center.

There are also several amendments to several laws and statutes to meet the changing times.

Also last March 14, 2011, the Senate concurred to the ratification of the Agreement on the Technical Cooperation between the Philippine government and the government of Japan by approving Senate Resolution No. 36.

Source: Manilla Bulletin




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