Press Release
July 27, 2015

Drilon vows passage of more laws to uplift the lives of Filipinos, improve governance

With barely a year left before the 2016 elections, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon enjoined his colleagues "to set aside political interests and instead focus their time and resources on thinking of solutions to the nation's pressing problems."

In his speech during the opening of the third and last Regular Session of the 16th Congress, Drilon stressed the need for the Senate to continue implementing meaningful reforms and pursuing good governance.

Drilon emphasized how these reforms "rake in huge dividends in improving the life of Juan Dela Cruz, strengthening the economy, creating a stable political system, and providing social protection to our citizens."

In the months leading up to the next elections, however, Drilon said that the challenge for him and his colleagues in the Senate is to enact laws which will ensure the continuity of these reforms.

"The challenge that is thrown to us and to the people who will be elected in 2016, is to ensure the continuity of these reforms," said Drilon.

"We are racing against time. Let us remind ourselves that we are here to serve the people, and not special interest groups," he underscored.

"We must ensure a bright and promising future for the younger generation and the generations yet unborn," he added.

The Senate chief said that while the Senate has posted a strong legislative performance in the past five years, he believes that more needs be done to propel the nation to greater economic, political and social heights.

"Since the beginning of the Aquino administration, we have worked hard to institute reforms needed to improve the economy, create a stable political environment and improve our social infrastructure,"

"But let us walk a mile more," he stressed, enumerating a set of legislation to be prioritized in the last session.

Drilon then vowed that the Senate will make use of its remaining time to pass even more laws that will uplift the lives of Filipinos and improve governance.

According to the Senate chief, among the priority bills the Senate will examine the 2016 National Budget, to ensure the steady flow of funding to vital government programs and services:

"We shall pass it on time as we have done in the past five years, so that the government would not operate on a reenacted budget," he said.

Drilon said that they will "scrutinize every fact and examine every figure in the proposed 2016 General Appropriations Act," and assured the public that he will "see to it that the pork barrel system is a thing of the past."

The Senate, Drilon said, will also continue to "promote lasting peace and sustainable development in Mindanao through a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is fully consistent with our Constitution."

On the economic front, Drilon said that the Senate will address the gaps in the policy environment for public and private partnerships through the proposed Build-Operate Transfer Law and the Law on Acquisition of Right-of-Way.

It will also work on the passage into law of the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act and the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (TIMTA), to enhance trade and commerce.

The Senate leader added that they will also be giving focus on the improvement of public services, through the bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology for enhance the country's communication services, and the proposed PAGASA Modernization Act, which seeks to equip the state weather bureau with state-of-the-art facilities and technology.

Drilon underscored that it is crucial for the Senate to sustain its strong legislative performance throughout the last five years, noting the passage many landmark and much-needed bills have been passed into law within the present administration.

He explained that true to the Aquino administration's mandate of clean and principled governance, the Senate passed the GOCC Governance Act, and amended the Sandiganbayan Law. It also introduced amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Similarly, he said that the Senate had also passed measures to stimulate the economy and attract foreign investments, thus creating more jobs, capped off by the landmark Philippine Competition Act and the amendments to the Cabotage Law.

The Senate also legislated the act allowing the full entry of foreign banks to improve local banking services, approved tax exemptions for foreign carriers, and enacted the Revised Insurance Code.

The institution had also acted on milestone bills like the Sin Tax Reform Law, and approved the amendments to the expanded Senior Citizens Act. It also passed the Graphic Health Warning Act, and the prominent Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

Drilon said that the Senate also fulfilled its pro-education agenda with the passage of the Enhanced Basic Education Act, the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, the Ladderized Education Act, the Open Learning and Distance Education Act, and the law authorizing the Open High School System. Other key pieces of legislation passed by the Senate are the MARINA Law, which saved the livelihood of more than 80,000 seafarers; the amendments to the Fisheries Code; and the law which raised the tax exemption ceiling for 13th Month Pay and other benefits from P30,000 up to P82,000.

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