Press Release
December 22, 2006

Senates year-end session closes with record haul
Villar: 45 national and local bills passed by responsive and productive Senate

The Senate under the leadership of its President Manny Villar proved its critics wrong by closing this years regular session with a record haul of 45 national and local bills approved on third and final reading.

Senate President Manny Villar said this comes to prove that the Senate is a responsive and productive chamber, contrary to what its critics had been peddling.

Let the Senates record performance speak for its unwavering commitment to performing its constitutional mandate. The Senate has heeded the challenge for the passage of meaningful measures, and it has succeeded in bringing forth unity and cohesion, not division or dissension, through responsible legislation, Villar declared.

Since taking over the helm of the Senate, Villar steered the chamber into passing on third and final reading a total of 19 bills of national importance, and 26 local bills emanating form the House of Representatives.

Villar said the Senate focused its energies on measures that respond directly to the urgent needs of the people. Binigyan prayoridad po ng Senado ang mga panukalang malapit sa bituka ng mamamayang Pilipino. Ang mga ito ay panukalang batas na tuwirang tumutugon sa mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan, Villar said.

The Senates long-list of accomplishments is topbilled by the enactment of Republic Act No. 9358 which provided for a P46.4-billion supplemental budget for 2006 that augmented the urgent expenditures of the national government, particularly those that focus on delivery of basic social services.

The Senate also responded to the environment crisis that plagued the provinces of Guimaras and Iloilo following the oil spill off the Guimaras Strait and the eruption of the Mayon Volcano. The Chamber passed the P850 million standby fund for the cleanup and rehabilitation of coastal areas affected by the oil spill as well as for the relief operations for the victims of the eruption of the Mayon Volcano which became Republic Act No. 9359.

The same measure also responded the crisis that plagued our Overseas Filipino Workers in Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East. The standby fund covered the evacuation repatriation, and livelihood assistance to those displaced by the strife in Beirut and other host countries in the region.

The Senate also approved Senate Bill No. 1745 which provides for P10 billion compensation to victims of human rights violations, a flagship socio-economic reform measure of the Arroyo administration.

The Senate has likewise acted with dispatch in approving its version of the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2007 which will allocate the much-needed funds for education and basic services.

In keeping with its commitment to sustain fiscal reforms, the Senate approved the measure restoring the 100 percent input tax in the Value Added Tax (VAT) system, which is envisioned to protect the interest of tax payers.

In addition, the Senate also passed following twin bills on taxation: SBN 2259 which will grant a one-time tax amnesty to all investors in freeports and ecozones that were listed as having tax liabilities with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and of Customs; and SBN 2260 which will amend Republic Act no. 7727 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act in order to correct a flaw that granted tax incentives exclusively only to investors in Subic, thus opening up a new tax regime to prevent investors in our freeports and ecozones from packing up and leaving the country.

To open up new livelihood opportunities, the Senate also passed SBN 2522, a novel measure defining handline fishing and providing effective regulations therein, and SBN 2226 or the Biofuels Act of 2006 which is a landmark measure that directs the use of biofuels in the transport sector.

Other national bills of application approved by the Senate are: SBN 1949 which governs the establishment, operation and regulation of lending companies; SBN 2482 which regulates the placement of billboard signs; SBN 2231 which is the Automated Election System Act of 2006; SBN 2521 which declares Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque as a National Shrine; SBN 1972 which declares May 7 of every year as Health Workers Day; and SBN 2512 which declares unlawful any form of cheating in Civil Service examinations.

The Senate likewise approved the following landmark treaties that concurred with our ratification to international agreements: Senate Resolution No. 92, concurring to the Cartagena Protocol of Biosafety to the United Nations Convention on Biological Biodivesiy; SRN 99, concurring in the Accession of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources; and SRN 108, concurring to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Villar said that despite the bashing from the House and other pro-Charter change groups, the Senate kept its bearing and proceeded in tackling meaningful measures that would strengthen the governments socio-economic functions, and not weaken them.

Our priority is to pass measures that would unite our people, not divide them; provide livelihood opportunities for them and plug loopholes that tend to bring the economy down. These are measures that matter most to our people; these are measures that your Senate has delivered, Villar said.

The Senate also showed its sensitivity to the concerns of the congressmen by passing local bills that they authored. These local bills mainly cover the conversion of municipalities into chartered or component cities, a move that would mean heftier shares from national tax proceeds for these local government units. A number of House Bills (HB) creating additional court branches all over the country was likewise approved.

The following bills were approved on third and final reading by the Senate: HB 4899, amending the cityhood charter of Sipalay, Negros Occidental; HB 884, creating the province of Dinagat Islands; HB 4937 Converting Meycauayan, Bulacan into a component city; HB 4192 reapportioning Sultan Kudarat into two legislative districts; HB 1299 creating another congressional district in Zamboanga Sibugay; HB 5500 converting municipality of Navotas into a city; HB 4078 reapportioning Marikina City into two legislative districts; HB 3043 creating 4 additional regional trial court branches and 2 additional Municipal trial court branches with station at the city of Antipolo, amending for the purpose Batas Pambansa blg. 129, otherwise known as the Judiciary reorganization act of 1980; HB 4976 creating 5 additional metropolitan trial court branches for the city of Paraaque; HB 5126 creating 4 additional metropolitan trial court branches for Caloocan City, with stations at Caloocan City North and Caloocan City proper; HB 5305 creating 4 additional regional trial court branches in the Province of Leyte to be stationed in the city of Tacloban; and HB 5071 creating 2 branches of the regional trial court and an additional branch of the municipal trial court in the cities for the province of Cebu to be stationed at the city of Talisay.

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