Senators file pet bills for 18th Congress

Maris Federez   •   July 1, 2019   •   1369

The country’s senators have started filing their pet bills on Monday (July 1) as they begin their regular office work in preparation for the official opening of the 18th Congress on July 22 for President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Every senator will file their first 10 priority bills.

The first who filed his bills is Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

His proposals include the following:

  1. Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency
  2. Anti Drug Penal  Institution
  3. Medical Scholarship Act
  4. Amendments to Human Security Act
  5. Hybrid Elections Act
  6. 14th Month Pay Law
  7. Anti Fake News Act
  8. Increasing Penalty of Perjury
  9. Sim Card Registration Act
  10. Dangerous Drugs Court

Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara also filed his pet bills, as follows:

  1. Upgrading Salary Grade Level of Teachers from 11 to 19
  2. Under Privileged Students’ Discount Act
  3. Increasing the Monthly Pension of Senior Citizens
  4. Dialysis Center Act
  5. Resolution on Dialysis Fraud

Senator Bong Revilla Jr also filed his priority bills for the 18th Congress, which include:

  1. P125 Daily Across-the-Board increase in the Salary Rates of Employees in Private Sector
  2. Lowering the Mandatory & Optional Retirement Age of Government employees

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, filed the following:

  1. Coco Levy Act
  2. National Land Use Act of 2019
  3. Proposed Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources
  4. Proposed Department of Disaster & Emergency Management
  5. Rainwater Management Bill
  6. Single-Use Plastic Regulation & Management Act
  7. Basic Education Teachers Pay Increase Act

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Ralph Recto, on the other hand, will once again file the bills entitled Sogie Equality Bill or the Anti-Discrimation Bill and the One Town, One Doctor Bill, respectively.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he will propose measures regarding the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers.

“Gustong gusto natin yung Bagong Bayani Filipino hospital for our OFW and then yung OFW insurance act,” said Villanueva.

Senator Lito Lapid, on the other hand, signified his desire to strengthen the free legal assistance and will propose a measure to resolve the water shortage, according to his son, Mark Lapid.

“Siyempre gusto niyang magsubmit ng paano natin (sosolusyunan) ang water crisis,” Lapid said.

Meanwhile, the offices of the newly elected senators are currently under renovation.

These include the offices of Senators Pia Cayetano, Bong Revilla, Ronald Bato dela Rosa who personally visited his office, Bong Go, and Lito Lapid.

The equipment and furniture of the outgoing senators are now pulled out of their former offices.  (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

9 of 10 Filipinos favor automated election system — Pulse Asia

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019

Majority of the Filipinos still favor continuing the holding of elections through an automated system in the future.

Based on Pulse Asia’s recent survey conducted last June, nine of 10 or 91% of Filipinos would still prefer having the elections done electronically.

They said an automated election system is faster and the results are immediately released.

“They feel that faster results made the Elections more credible and then it’s also easier compared to let’s say how we use to vote where you have to write the surname of the candidate,” Pulse Asia president Dr. Ronnie Holmes said.

An election watchdog, however, said that since election results were difficult to manipulate under the AES, reports of vote-buying increased.

“Vote buying became more rampant after we automated our Elections because candidates, politicians did not know how to cheat the machines,” said LENTE executive director Atty. Ona Carritos.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) believes that President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts the automated election system despite his earlier pronouncement in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) favoring the termination of the contract with Smartmatic. (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Neophyte Senators get key committees in Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   July 23, 2019

The Senate of the Philippines released on Tuesday (July 23) its first batch of elected chairpersons for different committees this 18th Congress.

  1. Agriculture & Food – Sen. Cynthia Villar (retained)
  2. Blue Ribbon Committee – Sen. Richard Gordon (retained)
  3. Constitutional Amendments & Revision of Codes – Sen. Kiko Pangilinan (formerly chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon)
  4. Economic Affairs – Sen. Imee Marcos (formerly chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian)
  5. Energy – Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (retained)
  6. Finance – Sen. Sonny Angara (formerly chaired by ex-Senator Loren Legarda)
  7. Foreign relations – Sen. Koko Pimentel (formerly chaired by now House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano)
  8. Games & Amusement – Sen. Lito Lapid (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  9. Health & Demography – Sen. Bong Go (formerly chaired by ex-Sen. JV Ejercito)
  10. Labor, Employment & Human resources development – Sen. Joel Villanueva (retained)
  11. Local Government – Sen. Francis Tolentino (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  12. National Defense & Security – Sen. Panfilo Lacson (formerly chaired by now DICT chief Gringo Honasan)
  13. Public Information & Mass Media – Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. (formerly chaired by Sen. Grace Poe)
  14. Public Order & Dangerous Drugs – Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  15. Public Services – Sen. Grace Poe (retained)
  16. Public Works – Sen. Manny Pacquiao (retained)
  17. Social Justice, Welfare & Rural Development – Sen. Leila De Lima (formerly chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar)
  18. Tourism – Sen. Nancy Binay (retained)
  19. Ways & Means- Sen. Pia Cayetano (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  20. Women, Children, Family Relations & Gender Equality – Sen. Risa Hontiveros (retained)

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to announce the chairpersons for the following key Senate Committees:

  1. Accounts
  2. Agrarian Reform
  3. Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies
  4. Civil Service and Government Reorganization
  5. Climate Change
  6. Cooperatives
  7. Cultural communities
  8. Education
  9. Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation
  10. Environment and Natural Resources
  11. Ethics and Privileges
  12. Government Corporations and Public Enterprises
  13. Justice and Human Rights
  14. Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation
  15. Rules
  16. Science and Technology
  17. Sports
  18. Trade and Commerce
  19. Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement
  20. Youth

Sotto reminds colleagues: Respect resource persons during Senate hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – Reelected Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Monday reminded his colleagues to respect the rights of the resource persons they invite in their inquiries, saying they are primarily legislators and not prosecutors.

“We are not prosecutors, we are not Judges, our hearings had been known to be precursors of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and even self-injury. It should not be the case,” Sotto said in his speech after he was reelected through viva voce.

“The constitution expressly provides that the rights of the invitees must be respected,” he added.

However, Sotto was quick to clarify that respecting the rights of resource persons does not mean they will be soft on those lying to them.

“I only mean that our inquiries should really be in aid of legislation, although I also believe that those who lie in our face must stay in our premises or Muntinlupa if they continue to do so. What I am only saying is that we are legislators, primarily,” he said.

Sotto retained his post as Senate President after he was after majority of senators voted for him at the start of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress on Monday.

READ: Sotto retains post as Senate President

Sotto said the Senate will continue to be cooperative but independent and transparent on issues.

The senate leader also outlined some of the priority bills they will deliberate on in the 18th Congress, including the proposal to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 which will be called the Anti-Terrorism Act, the proposed Public Services Act, and the proposed national budget.

Sotto, meanwhile, sees heated debates ahead for the proposed revival of the death penalty. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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