Sotto retains post as Senate President

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019   •   2343

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has retained his post as Senate President after a majority of senators voted for him at the start of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress on Monday.

During the opening of the session, lawmakers voted viva-voce to support his continuing leadership in the upper chamber of the Congress.

Viva-voce voting is done where lawmakers will shout aye for their bet.

Also reelected are Senator Ralph Recto as Senate President Pro-tempore, and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as Majority Floor Leader.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon will also continue leading the opposition bloc.

Twenty-two senators were present during the opening of the session; absent were Senator Manny Pacquiao, who he is still in Las Vegas, Nevada after his boxing bout with Keith Thurman, and Senator Leila de Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

After the voting, Sotto led the oath-taking of newly-elected Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go, Ronald dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Lito Lapid, Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, Francis Tolentino, Nancy Binay and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla.

Senate on lockdown after staff tests positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   March 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate of the Philippines will be under “total lockdown” on Tuesday, March 16, to give way to sanitation and disinfection of premises after a staff tested positive for COVID-19.

A personnel from the Legislative Bills and Index Service was confirmed positive for coronavirus on Monday, March 15.

“The entire Bills and Index (Service) is now quarantined. And so with that, we cannot make any amendments, any other bills to take up until the full sanitation is done,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto assured that none of the senators were exposed to the infected employee.

He added that only virtual hearings will be allowed on Tuesday while on-site sessions will resume on Wednesday (March 17).

Senator Richard Gordon offered the services of the Philippine Red Cross in case the Senate agrees to conduct a saliva-based COVID-19 testing.

Three employees of the Senate’s in-house catering service had also recently tested positive for COVID-19.

It prompted the Senate president to cut short the session time to until 6:00 p.m. as they could not compromise the schedule of deliberations given the load of proposed measures that they have to address.

The 18th Congress is set to suspend sessions for the 2nd regular session from  March 27 to May 16. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Talks on ABS-CBN franchise will have to wait for next Congress — Speaker Velasco

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Allan Velasco maintained that calls to revive the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN will have to wait until the next Congress.

In a statement on Thursday (February 11), Velasco said the 18th Congress only has a year until the 2022 elections.

Thus, he said, “The House of Representatives is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of this Administration to ensure that President Rodrigo Duterte fulfills his campaign promise to the Filipino people.” 

On top of these priority legislation, Velasco said, Congress is working double time to accomplish priority legislation such as the passage of the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or the Bayanihan 3, as well as other economic bills geared toward rebuilding the Philippine economy following the impact of the global pandemic.

Several lawmakers have moved to revive the media giant’s franchise application by filing proposed measures to the same Congress that denied it in July 2020. 

READ: Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise, unless…

Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he will not allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise unless the media firm settles its unpaid taxes to the government.

Duterte certifies as urgent Senate bill creating Department of Overseas Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 1949 which seeks to create a Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOOF).

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the President said the proposed department aims to ease the burden of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by providing a more effective and ‘whole-of-government’ approach to safeguard their rights, welfare, and interest.

If created, the DOOF shall also formulate, promote, administer, and implement policies, as well as undertake systematic national development programs for managing and monitoring the overseas or foreign employment of Filipino workers.

The said bill has passed the House of Representatives but remains pending in the Senate.

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