Press Release
July 25, 2011

Enrile says Senate to tackle bills on economic, security
and environment matters

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today asked his colleagues to hasten the approval of Malacañang's priority bills but also noted that Congress should enact legislation to improve the nation's fiscal and economic capabilities as well as strengthen the country's environmental and defense infrastructure.

In his speech opening the Senate's 2nd Regular Session of the 15th Congress this morning, Enrile said the Senate ended its last session in high spirits by passing vital legislation that aim to address important economic, social, and political issues that faced the country. He said that recent events only show the need to pass critical measures aimed at protecting the nation's natural and economic resources.

"More than six weeks ago, Congress ended its first regular session in high spirits, having passed several vital pieces of legislation that aim to address important economic, social, and political issues our nation faces," Enrile said. "Between then and now, however, we witnessed the unfolding of events that only seem to magnify our vulnerability as a people and as a nation. "

Enrile noted that the recent heavy rains of June and July "which inundated towns and cities in the Visayas and in Mindanao again caused the loss of lives and the destruction of properties and sources of livelihood in those parts of the archipelago."

He said Congress passed the Climate Change Act and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, "and while we are waiting for the full and effective implementation of these two laws to take place, we hope that the People's Survival Fund Bill, already sponsored by the Committee on Climate Change, will soon be passed to help protect our local communities from the worst impacts of climate change."

In his speech, Enrile cited the brewing tension between China and the Philippines over the Spratly Islands. He said that while the issue between China, the Philippines, and other claimant countries, must be settled diplomatically, the incident showed how lacking the country's armed forces are in terms of military materiel and equipage.

"The rift with China over our territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea is a wake-up call," the Senate President said. "While the issue must be settled diplomatically, the incident showed us how lacking our armed forces are in terms of military materiel and equipage. We have no decent military might to speak of, not even to defend our own territory. This sad state of affairs must also be addressed immediately."

Enrile also reminded his colleagues to be vigilant in crafting legislation that will address and correct bureaucratic wrongdoings, such as the alleged multibillion-peso anomalies in the financial transactions of certain government institutions like the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Coconut Industry Investment Fund.

"The Senate will not back down from unveiling them," vowed Enrile, adding, "the human propensity to abuse power and to some extent, acquire illegal wealth, remains a challenge for us lawmakers. Thus, we shall endeavor to craft legislations that will address and correct what is wrong in the bureaucracy."

Enrile also reiterated his suggestion that Congress should now debate the long-standing proposals to amend some economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.

"Perhaps, now is the time to explore the possibility of introducing amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution," he said. "This very important issue must be debated on openly and intelligently as we try to help infuse the economy with sufficient stimuli that will spur growth in our industries and businesses and create more jobs for our people."

Enrile noted that "congressional action on this proposition may not come soon enough but now is the appropriate time to lay it down on the table."

He also mentioned that debates on the Reproductive Health bill were also expected to be calendared in the Senate. "We also look forward to an enlightening discussion on the pros and cons of this proposed law," he said.

Senate sources said Congress will discuss bills tackled during the first Legislative-Executive Advisory Council (LEDAC) such as the early passage of the General Appropriations Act of 2012, and other priority bills.

Among the Malacañang certified economic measures the Senate is expected to tackle once it buckles down to work are the Anti-Competition Act (SBN 1) which aims to penalize businesses engaged in unfair trade practices; the Investments and Incentives Code of the Philippines (SBN 2379) aimed at rationalizing the grant and administration of fiscal incentives for the promotion of investments and growth; the Government Procurement Reform Act (SBN 2425) which seeks to remove any ambiguity in the interpretation of the scope and application of the country's current procurement law.

Also considered for early passage are the Terrorist Financing Suppression Act of 2010 (SBN 1749), which seeks to provide a reward system for persons who provide information leading to the arrest or prosecution of terrorists or the prevention of terrorist acts; the Anti-Money Laundering Act (SBN 2484), which aims to further strengthen the country's current anti-money laundering law; and a bill amending certain Sections of Republic Act No. 6957, which aims to increase investments in infrastructure by creating an enabling environment for private sector investment in infrastructure (SBN 2170).

Four measures included in the LEDAC priority list were signed into law by the president recently. They are R.A. 10151, rationalizing the night work prohibition on women workers; R.A. 10149, promoting financial viability and fiscal discipline in government-owned and controlled corporations; RA 10153, synchronizing the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the national and local elections; and RA 10154, which mandates all government agencies to ensure the early release of a retiring state worker's retirement benefits within 30 days of his or her actual date of retirement.

Also enacted into law are two pro-poor bills: the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011 (R.A. 10152), and the Act Extending the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate (R.A. 10150).

The Senate also passed on second reading three bills included in the first LEDAC meeting: the Kindergarten Education Act (SBN 2700) which called for the institutionalization of kindergarten education into the basic education system and prescribing a mother tongue-based multi-lingual education; the National Health Insurance Act (SBN 2849) which sought to amend and improve the country's current national health insurance policy; and the Whistleblower's Protection Act of 2011 (SBN 2860), which sought to provide better protection, security and benefits for whistleblowers.

News Latest News Feed