Drilon: Senate work unaffected by PDAF controversy

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Thursday, May 15, 2014


SENATE President Franklin Drilon said Thursday that the Senate remains on track on its commitment to pass measures despite the pork barrel scam controversy involving some of its members.

“Despite the issues facing certain senators, we have remained focused on our legislative work so as not to derail the approval of important measures that we are deeply committed to pass for the benefit of our people,” he said.

Drilon emphasized the Senate’s close coordination with the House of Representatives to expedite and boost overall legislative performance.

“Never had there been a closer working relationship between the two chambers which have resulted in a speedier passage of bills of national importance,” said Drilon.

(Video by Alfonso Padilla)

Drilon said that records show that the Senate of the 16th Congress has outpaced the legislative output of the Senate in the previous Congress.

During the first regular session of the 15th Congress from July 26, 2010 to May 14, 2011, only two measures were enacted into law, five bills approved on second and third reading, and one treaty was ratified.

While for the same period in the 16th Congress, five measures were enacted into law, six were approved on second and third reading, and three treaties were ratified.

Among the bills signed into law by the President are the 2014 General Appropriations Act, the P14.6-billion supplemental budget, as well as a joint resolution extending the validity of the 2013 calamity and quick response fund in order to capacitate government’s rehabilitation program on areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda, and the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Also enacted is the law establishing the Maritime Industry Authority as the single maritime administration in order to comply with international standards.

“Because of Congress’ timely intervention, we had prevented the possible loss of jobs of around 80,000 Filipino seafarers in Europe. The European Union acknowledged our efforts and gave us more time to reform our maritime industry,” said Drilon.

The Senate likewise passed on third reading four bills, including the Freedom of Information bill which, according to Drilon, “would be a strong deterrent against corruption in the government” once enacted into law.

The Senate also passed the bill promoting micro, small and medium enterprises and the measure mandating telecommunication companies to send free mobile alerts to subscribers in the event of disasters and calamities.

It also granted a franchise to Cotabato Light and Power Company to prevent disruption of electricity in Cotabato City and parts of Maguindanao.

Moreover, the Senate concurred in the ratification of treaties with the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (UK), Spain, and India to boost government’s effort to fight criminality, especially those related to child trafficking and prostitution.

On the other hand, various measures are already in the advanced stages of legislation.

The bill further strengthening the Sandiganbayan and the measure extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways, which shall expire by June this year, are set to be passed on third reading by Monday, May 19.

The Picture-based Health Warning on Tobacco Act is currently in the period of interpellations.

"Before we adjourn in June, we hope to pass 16 priority bills, including the national student loan program, an open high school system for out of school youth, and the Iskolar Ng Bayan Act," he said.

Also to be discussed on the Senate floor soon is the bill increasing allowances of soldiers and policemen nationwide, as well as a bill that would increase the tax exemption limit on employees’ benefits.

Drilon took over the Senate leadership from Senator Juan Ponce Enrile at the opening of the 16th Congress in July last year.

The Senate chief believes that the only way they could regain the people’s confidence and trust is through genuine hard work.

The Senate has conducted several hearings including the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

A initial report prepared by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee had recommended the filing of plunder cases against Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Enrile for allegedly receiving commissions from businesswoman Janet Napoles, whose fake foundations implemented ghost projects funded by the lawmakers' PDAF. (Camille P. Balagtas/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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