Press Release
October 11, 2013

Senate to tackle FOI, budget, economic bills when session resumes Monday

The Senate will resume its session on Monday, October 14, after a two-week recess.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate will prioritize the debates of the Freedom of Information Bill, which is crucial in the fight against corruption when enacted into law. The bill has been approved on the committee level and is expected be passed on final reading by the end of the year.

Drilon said the Senate Committee on Public Information chaired by Sen. Grace Poe started with the sponsorship period of the FOI bill last September 24. "We will begin the period of interpellation and subsequently with the period of amendments when session will resume on Monday," he said.

The FOI bill seeks to adopt and implement a policy of full public disclosure of all government transactions, involving public interest, with appropriate safeguards to protect national security and national interest.

Drilon said the Senate will also push for measures aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment. In a speech before the Makati Business Club two weeks ago, Drilon said the Senate will push for policies that will encourage investments in agriculture, tourism, services and manufacturing constructions.

"We want to introduce a comprehensive package of reforms that will improve the business climate, create jobs, reduce poverty and foster transparency and accountability," he added.

Likewise, Drilon disclosed, the Senate has committed itself to pass the 2014 national budget on time. He said the Senate has been working hard, holding budget hearings of various departments and institutions during the two-week recess.

Also on Monday, the Senate is expected to hold a caucus to discuss, among others, the question on whether the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should issue a subpoena to compel pork barrel scam principal suspect Janet Lim Napoles to appear before the committee's inquiry on the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Allocation Fund (PDAF).

At the same time, Drilon said the Chamber will also work for the passage of the rationalization of fiscal incentives, which seeks to remove various incentives granted to businesses and investors such as tax breaks that are either excessive or no longer necessary. Based on previous estimates by the Department of Finance, the rationalization of fiscal incentives bill could generate up to P10 billion in additional revenues.

"Our study in the Senate shows that there are around 186 laws which provide numerous fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and subsidies to foreign and domestic investors. We will reassess and harmonized these laws to avoid redundant and overlapping incentives to cut unnecessary revenue loss," he said.

Drilon said the Senate will review restrictions in specific laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List to increase foreign investments and generate employment. He said activities such as retail trade enterprises with paid-up capital of less than $2.5 million, contracts for the construction and repair of locally-funded public works, contracts for the supply of materials to Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), adjustment, lending and financial companies and investment houses regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission will open up to foreign investors.

He said the Senate is studying the rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime which will give the government a more equitable share of mining revenues as well as push for the amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Drilon said the proposed amendments aim to strengthen the BSP's monetary stability function by restoring the authority to obtain data from private persons or entities and authority to issue negotiable certificates of indebtedness even during normal times; strengthen BSP's financial stability function by enhancing its supervisory authority and providing legal protection for its officials when performing official duties and strengthen BSP's corporate and financial viability by increasing the bank's capitalization.

He said the Senate will push for the passage of the amendments of the Cabotage Law which will allow foreign registered vessels to engage in coastwise trade in the country and open the market to competition.

"The Senate is also considering numerous bills that will provide protection, security and other benefits to whistleblowers and to address the increasing backlog of cases in the Sandiganbayan. I have filed a bill allowing individual justices of this Court to sit and receive evidence for and in behalf of his Division," Drilon said.

If enacted into law, Drilon said, his proposed legislation will significantly expedite the resolution of cases in the Sandiganbayan where over 2,500 cases are being tried by only five trial courts.

News Latest News Feed