Congress resumes sessions, to tackle priority bills

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2019   •   1472

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of Representatives are set resume their sessions today in a bid to pass several priority bills before the 17th Congress formally adjourns in three weeks.

The sessions will resume on Monday at three in the afternoon.

But before the plenary session begins in the Senate, majority of senators will first meet for a caucus called by Senate President Vicente Sotto III to finalize the legislative agenda of the upper chamber.

Sotto said that among the priorities that the Senate is looking to approve before the 17th congress adjourns on June 7 is the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act.

Sotto is referring to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019, which seeks to amend the Republic Act No. 9372 by redefining the acts of terrorism that are punishable by law and strengthening its provisions to deter terror groups.

The Senate will also try to finish tackling the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act. The bill seeks to amend Commonwealth Act No. 146 to address the confusion in the definition of a public utility and public services in order to provide Filipino consumers with more choices, better services and lower prices on utility services.

The measure is pending on second reading.

Sotto also expressed hope that the Medical Scholarship Act, which he authored, would be given equal priority before the sessions adjourn.

The bill seeks to address the issues of scarcity and unequal distribution of physicians in the country through the granting of scholarships to deserving medical students, provided that they would serve the country for five years.

The proposed measure is currently pending in the Senate committee on health and demography chaired by Senator JV Ejercito.

Other measures that the Senate is expected to discuss are the Budget Reform Act, Foreign Investment Act and the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address transportation woes in the country.

The lower House, for its part, is looking to approve more pro-people bills in the tight three-week schedule.

House Majority Leader Rep. Fredenil Castro said that among the bills they will tackle are the proposed Strengthening Drug Prevention and Control Act and the creation of Overseas Filipino Workers Sovereign Fund.

The Congress has nine session days before the sine die adjournment of 17th Congress. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Senate OKs bill seeking to extend validity of firearms licenses

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 10, 2019

(FILE) Filipinos look at Beretta pistols displayed for sale at a gun exhibition in Mandaluyong City, east of Manila, Philippines, 16 November 2017. EPA-EFE/EUGENIO LORETO

The Senate, on Monday (December 9), has passed a bill for third and final reading, seeking to extend the validity of firearms licenses from two years to five years.

With 20 votes in favor, zero against and zero abstention, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 1155 which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10591 or the “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”.

Under the measure, the registration of a firearm shall be renewed every five years from the birth date of the licensee.

“Failure to renew the registration of the firearm on or before the date of its expiration shall cause the revocation of the license. The said firearm shall be confiscated or forfeited in favor of the government after due process,” according to the bill.

During his sponsorship speech, Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa said that a lack of practical renewal policies hinders gun owners from renewing their firearms.

“In a country like ours, gun ownership is a privilege that is hidden behind numerous documentary requirements and countless conditions that must be met; then and only then can one avail of such privilege,” he said.

“We are for the promotion of safety measures. We are for the protection of our people. But surely, and that is what this bill ensures, it would be better if it would not take a mountain of work for us to do so,” he added.—AAC

Senate to discuss bills seeking to create water agency

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The proposed measures seeking to establish a central water agency that would focus on water, sewerage and sanitation are set to be discussed at the Senate on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

The hearing will be jointly conducted by the Senate committees on public services, civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation, ways and means and finance.

“We need a lead agency whose ultimate responsibility would be the provision of adequate and safe water supply, not just for household and commercial needs, but for our farms,” Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the committee on public services said in a statement.

“What we currently have is a fragmented regulatory framework for water that has limited powers, which has a significant impact on the delivery of water and sanitation services in the country,” she added.

The hearing will tackle the eight bills seeking the creation of a water agency that are pending before the committee. These were filed by Poe, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla Jr.

It will also discuss the three bills proposing the creation of a Department of Water Resources Management filed by Senators Manny Pacquiao, Francis Tolentino and Ronald Dela Rosa.

Poe said the hearing will also offer an opportunity to discuss questions about the government contracts with water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier slammed the water firms for the alleged ‘onerous’ provisions in their concession agreements which were signed with the government in 1997.

The lawmaker expressed optimism that the Senate can pass its version of the water agency bill soon, emphasizing that the water bill is among the President’s list of priority legislature.

“We want assurance of the people’s right to clean and steady supply of water,” she said.

Senate adopts resolution honoring hero cop in Misamis school blast

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution commending Police Senior Master Sergeant Jason Magno for his selfless act of sacrificing his life to shield others from a grenade blast in a school in Misamis Oriental last week.  

Senate Resolution No. 229, introduced by Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson and Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, lauded Magno for his extraordinary bravery and heroism to save the lives of others at the cost of his own.

“The Senate honors and commend the late Police Senior Master Sergeant Jason Janog Magno for his extraordinary bravery, heroism and instinct to protect and save the lives of his fellow men at the cost of his own going beyond his sworn duty to serve and to protect,” it said.

Magno, a police explosive ordnance disposal specialist, died last Nov. 28 after he and his partner, Senior Master Sergeant Alice Balido, responded to complaints of a man causing trouble inside a school in Initao town.

The man, identified as 65-year old Ebrahim Ampaso Basher, was carrying a hand grenade while walking around the school.

Basher threw the grenade when he was confronted by police officers.

Magno then dropped down and covered the grenade with his own body to save innocent civilians around, while his partner, shot the suspect resulting in his death.

Balido and some 10 students were injured in the incident.

President Rodrigo Duterte posthumously conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kalasag, and the PNP Medal of Valor to Magno. The president also presented the Order of Lapu-Lapu Magalong Medal to the family of Magno.

“The selfless act of Police Master Sergeant Jason Magno should be emulated and recognized not only by the Philippine National Police but by the entire country,” the resolution stated.

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