Press Release
January 14, 2010

Senate reopens on January 18

With so much to do and so little time, the Senate will resume its session on Monday, January 18, to finish its legislative agenda and attempt to pass 13 Senate bills and two House bills that are up for Third Reading.

Acknowledging that nine days is not enough to pass hundreds of legislation pending in both Chambers of Congress, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile otherwise expressed assurance that the Senate would do its best to pass bills considered urgent and timely.

"We will buckle down to work on Monday, January 18 and will do our best to pass at least 13 bills next week," Enrile said.

According to Enrile, scheduled to be passed by the Senate on Third Reading on the week of January 18-20 is Senate Bill No. 3561, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens' Act of 2009, which grants additional benefits to senior citizens.

"Our senior citizens deserve better treatment, and passing this bill will enable them to enjoy, among others, additional discounts for medicines and other much needed supplies," Enrile added.

"The Senate will also do its best to pass the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, as there really is a need to establish an institutional mechanism that ensures the implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities (PWDs)," Enrile said, referring to a bill pending on Third Reading which will give PWDs better access to institutions and services created specifically for them.

The Senate is also set to tackle Senate Bill No. 3554, which grants Civil Service eligibility to government employees whose status of appointment is either casual or contractual and who have rendered a total of five years of service.

In the case of the bill protecting OFWs, Enrile urged his colleagues to keep the plight of Filipino migrant workers in mind, saying "I hope that we can pass the Philippine Immigration Act of 2009, as this will ensure the improvement of protection standards for OFWs and promote the welfare of migrant workers and their families."

Other bills that will be taken up on Third Reading are the Anti-Camcording Act, which prohibits the unauthorized use, possession, and or control of audiovisual recording devices; and Senate Bill No. 3530, also known as the Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Services Pilferage Act of 2009.

"Our right to privacy must be protected. No one has the right to record, by any means, our private lives, especially if the recording is done without our consent," said Enrile.

The Senate is also set to pass on Third Reading Senate Bill No. 2440, which calls for the prevention and control of pollution from ships and other seafaring vessels; and Senate Bill No. 2393, declaring the Apo Reef in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro as a protected area.

Also up for Third Reading are House Bill No. 1450 establishing the Malaria, Tropical and Infectious Disease Research and Treatment Institute in Tawi-Tawi and House Bill No. 889, creating the Aguinaldo Municipal Hospital in Ifugao.

Meanwhile, two Senate bills are up for additional amendments: Senate Bill No. 2377, which seeks to effectively instill health consciousness through picture-based warnings on cigarette packs, sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano and Sen. Manny Villar; and Senate Bill No. 1836, otherwise known as the Anti-Prostitution Act of 2007, sponsored by Senators Francis Escudero and Pia Cayetano.

Bills scheduled for interpellation are Senate Bill No. 2546, otherwise known as the Department of Information and Communications Technology Act of 2008; Senate Bill No. 871, which seeks to amend of the Central Bank Act; and Senate Bill No. 2486, amending the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973.

Up for sponsorship are bills renaming five hospitals, and converting 15 provincial roads to national roads.

The Senate also urges the Lower House to pass other bills that are pending, such as the Anti-Trust Act of the Philippines, which prohibits businesses and industries from engaging in anti-competitive practices; and the Electricity Rate Reduction Act of 2009, which directs the reduction of the government share from indigenous energy resources in order to achieve parity of tax treatment, lower commodity price, thereby reducing the cost of electricity.

"We need an Anti-Trust law that will maintain and enhance free and full competition in trade, industry and all commercial economic activity" Enrile declared, adding that "an anti-trust law will enable the government to penalize all forms of unfair trade, and anti-competitive marketing practices that only benefit the rich and deprive the poor of their rights to better service."

Congress has until February 5, or exactly nine days, to fast track the approval of several priority bills before it adjourns sine die in time for the campaign season.

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