SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday lauded the swift approval and signing by President Benigno Aquino III into law of Republic Act 10638, which extended the corporate life of Philippine National Railways (PNR) for another 50 years.

RA 10638 was signed on June 16.

"I laud the President for acting promptly on this very important legislation, which the Congress vigorously pursued despite the issues confronting some of its members with regard to the pork barrel scam controversy," said Drilon.

RA 10638 was among the 19 measures passed by Senate during the First Regular Session.

"Kung mapuputol ang serbisyo ng PNR dahil na-expire na ang charter nito ngayong Hunyo, ang laking perwisyo ang maidudulot nito sa publiko, sa mga biyahero," he said.

The Senate leader said the speedy approval shows that the government acknowledges that rail transit systems still play an "undeniably crucial role in the everyday lives of our citizens."

"Any stoppage of the rail service will be of huge inconvenience for our commuting public, especially for our countrymen who hail from provinces and have to travel to Metro Manila on a daily basis," said Drilon.

"It is important then for the government to ensure that the PNR continues to be a convenient, dependable and time-saving transit system for our people," he added.

Drilon, however, hopes that a sound and feasible modernization plan for Philippine railways will soon be legislated and prioritized by the government, saying that the rail service, once it is improved, will make a cheaper alternative mode of transportation, which could aid in the decongestion of traffic in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, Drilon said that he expects more proposed legislation to become law in the coming days, such as, the Picture-Based Health Warning Act, the amendment to RA 7721 or the Act Liberalizing the Entry and Scope of Operations of Foreign Banks in the Philippines, the Philippine Lemon Law, the Free Mobile Alerts Act, and the Act Promoting the Reduction of Poverty Through the Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, among others. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)