Press Release
July 22, 2013

Drilon vows to lead a responsive Senate

"Let us do our share in nation building. Our people expect more from us. Let us not fail them."

Thus said Senate President Franklin M. Drilon in his speech delivered at the opening of the First Regular Session of the 16th Congress on July 22, 2013.

Upon the opening of the 16th Congress, Drilon was re-elected, with 17 strong votes, to the third highest position in the country, a post he previously held during the 11th and 12th Congresses.

"I stand before you, honored and humbled by your trust and confidence in me. It is indeed a great privilege to lead, for the fourth time, this august chamber," said Drilon.

"Today, the Senate is making history in the 16th Congress. Half of its members are below 50. A quarter of the members are ladies. This is the first time that this extraordinary membership happened since the Senate's creation. This ensures that the issues and concerns of women, and of the younger generation, will be given more focus and consideration," stressed Drilon.

He added: "We must be a sensitive and responsive Senate. A Senate that feels the pulse of the people. A Senate that is tireless in pursuing reforms to propel our beloved country to greater economic, political and social heights."

"But more important, we should be a critical thinking Senate. Debates are good; and we encourage that because the well-crafted laws are the ones that have been debated lengthily and passionately," emphasized Drilon.

The new Senate President said he will propose to his colleagues to prioritize the bills that address the economy and the plight of the poor. Among these bills are the the Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives; The Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law; The Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act (TIMTA); and The Removal of Investment Restrictions in Specific Laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL).

Also on the list of recommended priority measures are the following: The Amendments to the Charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; and enacting the National Land Use Act.

Drilon also said he wants a faster disposition of cases in our courts in order to restore the people's confidence in the justice system. He said among the bills that will address that are the amendment to the Ombudsman Act and the Sandiganbayan Law to ensure the speedy resolution of 2,600 cases currently pending with the anti anti-graft court.

On the peace process in Mindanao, Drilon said the Senate will be ready to amend the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao once the peace agreement is signed with the MILF, to institute the necessary reforms called for in the Agreement.

"Let us not forget that this is the Senate of the Filipino people. The welfare and general well-being of our people are our priority. We must work harder to provide them with opportunities and choices to enable them to live with dignity and honor," said Drilon. "As lawmakers and representatives of our people, we must ensure that the Philippine story is the story of inclusive and sustainable development, and lasting peace."

He added that the Senate should work to ensure "that no Filipino will be left behind. That each man and woman on the street, regardless of economic status, social background, religion and affiliation will experience a remarkable improvement in his/her life. And that the poorest and marginalized will be able to live self-sufficient and productive lives."

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