How the ‘Super Majority’ can affect passage of proposed bills

Maris Federez   •   May 22, 2019   •   1731

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Having proposed bills approved in Congress is and has always been a numbers game.

Majority votes by members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are always needed for a bill to pass and get enacted.

But just how long does it take to have a bill approved in Congress?

There are 12 steps to take to get thru the legislative process.

  1. Preparation of the Bill
  2. First Reading
  3. Committee Consideration / Action
  4. Second Reading
  5. Third Reading
  6. Transmittal of the Approved Bill to the Senate / House
  7. Senate /House action on the approved Bill
  8. Conference Committee
  9. Transmittal of the Bills to the President
  10. Presidential Action of the Bill
  11. Action on Approved Bill
  12. Action on Vetoed Bill

For a bill that is not so urgent, it usually takes one and a half to two years before it gets approved in Congress, especially when there is no one is opposed to it.

The annual proposed budget, on the other hand, has a prescribed time frame of six months for it to get thru the process and get approved.

The President, however, always has the power to expedite the process by having a bill certified as urgent.

Just like what then-President Benigno Aquino III did when he certified the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections as urgent in the 16th Congress.

It only took less than one month from the time it was filed until President Aquino signed the law.

On the other hand, some proposed laws do have early demise in Congress.

Two versions of the Anti-Political Dynasty bill could hardly get to move from the committee level.

With the opening of the 18th Congress with its new composition, the Super Majority composed of presidential allies is deemed to get even stronger.

Is this a prelude to a speedier passage of bills that are within the agenda of the administration?

For political analyst Ramon Casiple, this will make things easier for the government, pointing out that this has already happened even at the start of the Duterte administration with the Super Majority in the lower house.

Making things comfortable for the administration was the fact that the President’s allies have also dominated the Senate.

However, with all these things, one bill is still pending in both houses of Congress – the bill that seeks the changing of the form of government to Federalism.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubirri, nevertheless, assured that the Super Majority is not going to be a big issue in the Senate, so as not to affect the sensitive bill.

“The Senate is not just a working Senate but a thinking Senate, we need to have long hard discussions on this issues, hindi lang basta basta hook, line and sinker, ipapasa natin ang mga measures na itong mga measures na ito, dahil malaking implications, kung magkamali tayo sa Federalism, it can cause the bankruptcy of our country,” Zubirri said. (with reports from Nel Manibojoc) /mbmf

No solid evidence yet to charge BuCor officials in GCTA controversy — Lacson

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines has not found any strong evidence yet linking officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to the alleged anomalous implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes they still need more proof aside from the testimonials of the witnesses that appeared at the Senate inquiry in order for the Senate to recommend the filing of charges against the involved BuCor officials.

“Not only Director General Faeldon pero ang ibang dapat mahagip, sinoman ang i-recommend for criminal liability (Not only Director General Faeldon but everyone else that should be recommended for criminal liability),” Lacson said.

“We need solid evidence to even consider recommending filing criminal charges against them,” he added.

Lacson said there was supposedly a group of alleged officials of the agency who expressed their intention to speak up of what they know about the controversial implementation of the GCTA Law.

After some time, however, the said officials changed their minds and withdrew.

“I hope they will have a change of mind, change of heart and finally decide to tell all during the next hearing,” Senator Lacson said.

During the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Thursday, the Senate invited to attend several personalities including former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong who formerly served as Chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Several senators already expressed agreement in giving chance to detained Senator Leila de Lima to defend herself at the Senate hearing after her name was again dragged into the controversy for allegedly receiving money from drug lords inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“Yes, she should be given an opportunity,” expressed Senator Franklin Drilon.

Meanwhile, three BuCor officials remained locked up inside the Senate after they were charged in contempt for ling before the Senate Committee. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

Sotto on GCTA hearing: More witnesses will be presented

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 11, 2019

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday (September 11) said more witnesses on the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) will be presented at the Senate hearing on Thursday (September 12).

Four to five new witnesses might testify during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing tomorrow.

According to Sotto, these are former inmates and employees of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Their testimonies will center on the GCTA and “hospital pass for sale” issue.

“I signed seven subpoenas which include subpoena duces tecum, but personalities will be presented tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, the calls and messages from Elvira Sanchez have been retrieved. Sanchez is the common law wife of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

The Senate is also seeking the assistance of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to identify who texted Elvira that her husband will be released.

In a previous hearing, Ms. Sanchez already said she did not know who texted and called her.

“Ang trace nila galing sa loob, (The trace came from the inside). It was a text from an inmate. As a matter of fact hindi lang text (it’s not just a text). Hindi accurate iyong sinabi ni Ms. Sanchez, [may] tawag, (Ms. Sanchez’s statement was not accurate, there was also a call)” according to Sotto.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

Zubiri calls for Alcatraz-like prisons for heinous crime convicts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2019

Senator Miguel Zubiri

Senator Miguel Zubiri has filed Senate Bill 1004 to establish a separate prison facility across the region for heinous crime convicts.

Zubiri filed the said bill in the wake of the near release of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

He said, “Heinous crime convicts and high-risk prisoners belong to maximum security prisons in isolated and uninhabited islands, far from their victims and society at large.”

Zubiri also lamented that while jails keep society safe and punish criminals by restricting their liberty, Sanchez was living luxuriously and still enjoys privileges as proven by actual videos taken at the New Bilibid Prison.

The senator proposed the establishment of Heinous Crimes Penitentiary (HCP). Based on the proposed Senate bill, inmates from the New Bilibid Prison and other Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) jails should be transferred to HCP facilities a year after its establishment.

“Convicts like Mayor Sanchez belong to the proposed Heinous Crimes Penitentiary to be run by the Bureau of Corrections. I propose that personnel of the Bureau build and operate several HCP facilities in several regions to be identified by the Secretary of Justice,” he said.

The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a maximum federal facility located on an island in California, United States. It housed the most dangerous criminals in the US. The facility operated from August 11, 1934, until March 21, 1963.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

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