Congress to pass 16 pending bills before June 13 adjournment

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Monday, May 5, 2014


BOTH leaders of Congress agreed to pass 16 pending legislative measures before it adjourns sine die on June 13, Senate President Franklin Drilon.

In a meeting on Monday at Crown Plaza hotel, Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. agreed to give utmost priority on legislation that will provide support to the country’s education system. The meeting was also attended by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Deputy Minority Leader Senator Vicente Sotto III, House Deputy Speaker Neptali Gonzales II, House Minority leader Ronnie Zamora, and House Ways and Means Committee Romero Quimbo.

"The bills that Congress will pass reflect the government's commitment to address the most basic and pressing concerns of our countrymen, which include education, health and our ability to prepare for the dangers of upcoming emergencies," said Drilon.

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"Both chambers are aware of several pending measures that need urgent legislative action, and it really helps that we hold this regular meeting to ensure the immediate passage of bills of national importance," said Drilon.

Most of the upcoming laws, Drilon said, will extend assistance to financially challenged students nationwide. Among these, he cited, are the National Student Loan Program and the Iskolar ng Bayan bills "to provide financial support to underprivileged students to pay for their tuition and subsistence allowance."

The Congress also plans to institutionalize the open distance education in the country with the impending approval of the Open Learning through Distance Education in Post-Secondary Education and Tertiary Levels and Open High School System for Out of School Youth.

It will also promote further the ladderized education in the country, as well as the establishment of special education centers throughout the country "to address the special needs of differently-abled students."

“We acknowledge the need to improve the country’s education system and by passing these proposed measures, we would gradually widen the reach of delivery of educational services across major deterrents such as poverty and logistical difficulties," Drilon said.

The Congress will also work on the immediate passage of a bill that will extend PhilHealth coverage to senior citizens.

Also on the list are the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law to address the backlog in the country's anti-graft courts, the picture-based health warning act to help bring down smoking incidence in the country, amendments to the Fisheries Code, and amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, said Drilon.

Likewise, the Congress vowed to tackle the bills extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways which is expiring by June 2014, and to grant franchise to the Cotabato Light and Power Company.

Another bill which is expected to be enacted is the bill mandating telecommunication companies to send out alerts during the time of disasters. The said bill was approved Monday in the Senate.

Finally, the Congress also included in its list of to-be-approved bills the postponement by another year of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections and the creation of the Quezon City Development Authority. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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