Senate, House identify priority measures

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


LEADERS of the House of Representatives and the Senate have identified their legislative priorities for the remaining three years of the Aquino administration.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the priority bills can be grouped into anti-corruption and pro-good governance measures, and legislation aimed towards boosting the country’s socio-economic condition.

“Both chambers are aware of several pending measures that need urgent legislative action, and the failure of Congress to enact them promptly would be detrimental to the cause being advocated by the government and to the welfare and overall development of the nation and the Filipino people, who would primarily benefit from these measures,” said Drilon.

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Among these, he said, are the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law, the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Whistle Blowers Protection Act, and amendments to the Witness Protection Act.

The FOI bill, a controversial measure which has been pending in Congress for several years, is already on second reading approval in the Senate. The counterpart measure in the House of Representatives however is in the committee level.

Other top-priority measures include, among others, the fiscal incentives rationalization, amendments to the Cabotage Law and Land Use Policy, the consumer protection act, the promotion of micro-enterprise development institutions, and the Marina bill, which was recently approved on second reading.

Proposed amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) law were also considered as priority bills amid the pending increase in electricity rates.

“We will also prioritize bills that will foster development of the nation’s status on social protection, education and health,” Drilon also said.

Among such measures are bills on 13th month tax exemption, the implementation of a national student loan program, and the required picture-based health warnings on cigarette products.

Drilon said the Senate and House leaders have agreed to meet regularly every month to ensure the speedy passage of the priority bills and to avoid unnecessary deadlock from occurring.

“We are determined to move fast towards the realization of our long-standing legislative commitments, and we are aware that this requires that legislative productivity be maximized,” the Senate chief said. (Sunnex)

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