Drilon: Election fever won’t distract Senate work

WITH 12 senators participating in the May 2016 polls as candidates, Senate President Franklin Drilon vowed Wednesday that “election fever” would not distract the 24-member legislative chamber from doing its job.

“We will continue to work and fulfill our mandate by legislating relevant, important and much-needed laws for our people. Even if the 2016 elections are fast approaching, we are not done yet and the public can expect more laws to be passed for their benefits and to address their most pressing needs,” Drilon said in a statement.

“We will not allow election fever to paralyze us,” he added.

In next year’s polls, Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor Santiago are running for president while Senators Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Gregorio Honasan II are vying for the vice presidency.

Drilon and Senators Ralph Recto, Sergio Osmeña III, Teofisto Guingona III, and Vicente Sotto III are seeking reelection. Graduating Senator Lito Lapid returns to Pampanga politics as a candidate for Angeles City mayor.

Drilon said the Senate would maximize the remaining months in session to focus on important legislation remaining on the priority agenda list.

When the Senate resumes session on January 18 next year, he said they would approve 35 bills, including the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act, on third and final reading.

The Senate leader also said they would resume work on other legislation pending on second reading, like the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and the proposed Public-Private Partnership Act.

Since the 16th Congress opened in July 2013 up to December 2015, Drilon said 88 measures were enacted into law, 67 of which were enacted in 2015, 17 in 2014, and four in 2013.

Some of the laws passed were Philippine Competition Act, the amendments to the Cabotage Law, the Graphic Health Warning Act, and the amendments to the Sandiganbayan Law.

“I am proud to report that within the 30 months of the 16th Congress, we have made possible the passage of various long-sought measures that languished in the legislative mill for years,” Drilon said.

“This achievement of this Congress is best measured not only in terms of the number of laws passed, but on the magnitude of the positive effect and benefits these laws could give to the people and the nation in terms of uplifting their lives and the economy.”

Drilon said 32 more bills are awaiting the approval and signing into law by President Benigno Aquino III, including the proposed acquisition of road right of way for government infrastructure projects, the proposed Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act, the proposed Credit Surety Cooperative Fund Act of 2015, the bill expanding the benefits and privileges of persons with disability, and the bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

Forty-four proposed measures were already approved on third reading by the Senate, including the amendments to the AFP Modernization law, the bill granting education assistance and benefits to dependents of all military and uniformed personnel, and the bill seeking to provide retirement benefits to barangay officials, tanods, barangay health workers and other employees of barangay units. (Sunnex)

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