Press Release
January 23, 2015

Congress sets target up to June 2015 - Drilon says other major
bills won't take back seat due to Bangsamoro debates

Though the Congress is intent on passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law within the first quarter of the year, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said the Congress will also work double-time in ensuring the passage of what it has identified as "must-pass' measures before the end of the second regular session in June 2015, which mostly include legislation that will sustain fiscal and economic growth and provide job opportunities to millions of Filipinos.

Among these bills are the amendments to the Built-Operate-Transfer Law, the Fair Competition Act, Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives Act, the rationalization of the mining revenues, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, and the amendments to the Charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Also included in the "must-pass" legislation are the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections, creation of the Department of Information and Communication Technology, the Philippine Immigration Act, the creation of information and communications technology hub, definition of public utilities, and the Magna Carta of the Poor.

"Our schedule is a bit tight considering that we only have six session weeks before we adjourn in March 19. The scheduled SK election next month is just around the corner, so a decision has to be made immediately whether to allow the elections of new set of SK officers or postpone it further to October 2016 to give Congress more time to overhaul the current SK system," said Drilon. The SK elections are scheduled for February 21.

Drilon said that by synchronizing the SK elections with the barangay elections, there will more time for current system to be reviewed and reforms be introduced, while saving public funds and precious time.

Drilon said the SK postponement along with the BBL shall be passed within the first quarter of the year: "We will have to strictly follow our schedule, because this bill that will create and embed peace in Mindanao still has to go through a lot of process including the ratification by the areas covered by the law, and the ratification should take place before the election period," he added.

The Senate leader also emphasized that the Congress will deal with a number of legislation that will help the country sustain its fiscal and economic growth amid emerging challenges, provide assistance to the poor and enhance ICT in the country.

The Congress will re-work the Magna Carta of the Poor to provide more complete and stable programs for the poor. He said the budgetary requirement of the proposed law will be included in the annual national budget.

It will also work on a bill that will mandate the establishment of ICT hubs in the country to support the growing demand for technology and the creation of a Department of Information and Communication Technology to supervise and implement policies on ICT.

Drilon said that a new agency devoted to improving the national capacity in the information and communications technology sector is all but necessary for a nation like the Philippines: "We are close to being the top business process outsourcing nation in the world, yet our ICT capacities are insufficient in several aspects, such as internet speed," Drilon said.

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