Press Release
October 9, 2008

Villar: Senate remains focused on legislative work, approves 184 measures

The Senate passed a total of 184 measures of both national and local applications on second and third reading since the start of the 14th Congress on July last year to October 9, 2008.

Of the 184 measures, highly-significant bills were approved before Senate adjourned for a month-long break Thursday, bringing to 49 the total number of bills of national application approved on third reading, Senate President Manny Villar said today.

Among the bills passed, Villar said, the most noteworthy is the Renewable Energy (RE) bill that is expected to trigger the development of the country's alternative energy resources through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and help decrease dependence on imported fuel that costs the government $5 billion annually. The chamber ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the bill Thursday, Villar said.

The Senate will resume its session on November 10, the Senate President said.

Villar also noted the ratification of two landmark treaties that would impact on the role of the Philippines in the Asian regional trade and diplomatic communities.

These are the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) and the charter of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Aside from these, the Senate also approved a number of resolutions of national and local applications, Villar said.

Despite what appear to be politically-motivated charges brought against his leadership, Villar explained the Senate remained focused on its tasks to legislate the needed reforms in Philippine society.

"The past few weeks we have seen how differences among the members of the Chamber tried to shake the institution. But despite the differences, the Senate persevered to deliver on its legislative duties. The Senate remained steadfast on its prime duty to legislate," Villar said.

"The exercise of democratic freedoms within the halls of the Senate can be tiring and time-consuming but these certainly did not distract the majority of the Senators from doing their jobs. I am proud of the legislative achievements of the Senate," he said.

"We will continue to perform as a highly-esteemed legislative institution, even if some of our ardent critics want to portray us in a negative way. We cannot afford to let the Senate diminish its legislative output due to internal conflict and misgivings," Villar further said.

Also passed by the Senate are: the bill updating the Fire Code of the Philippines; measure providing for fixed three-year term for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff; a bill demilitarizing the Department of National Defense and prohibiting a military officer from being appointed defense chief within a three-year period after his retirement from the service; a bill establishing a low-cost housing loan restructuring program; and a bill strengthening the Cooperative Code.

Villar also said the approval of bills creating new regional and municipal trial courts in areas like the National Capital Region, South Cotabato and Koronadal would strengthen the judicial system in the local level and improve the delivery of justice in the countryside.

The Nacionalista Party president also pointed out that the Senate passed on third reading the proposed Basic Compensation Act, a bill providing for additional support and compensation for educators in basic education, will benefit more than 50,000 teachers and non-teaching personnel in all public schools in the country, who will receive a P9,000 increase in their basic pay.

The Senate also approved on third reading the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2008, the New Firearms and Ammunition Act, the bill granting the right of reply, the act providing for research on postpartum syndrome and a joint resolution providing for severance incentive to employees of the legislative branch.

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