Press Release
July 16, 2020

SP's Priority bills

SENATE President Vicente Sotto III wants the Senate to fasttrack in the second regular session of Congress legislative action on five measures that he has filed which seek to improve current government systems and uplift the labor sector.

Sotto yesterday said he would push for priority discussions on his proposal to enact a Medical Scholarship Act, Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority Act, Hybrid Election Act, Anti-False Content Act and the 14th Month Pay law.

"I will move for speedy but comprehensive committee and plenary discussions on these five priority measures which I believe can make a huge impact on the lives of the Filipino people. The variety in the objectives of these measures would hopefully bring about needed reforms in governance, which at this time are essential to tip the scale in favor of public welfare over political, corporate or personal interests," Sotto said.

Top in the Senate President's list is the proposed Medical Scholarship Act (Senate Bill No. 1) which was already under plenary deliberations when Congress adjourned sine die last June. The measure proposes the grant of scholarships to deserving medical students to address the twin issues of scarcity and maldistribution of physicians in the country.

Sotto said the move will encourage financially-challenged students to take up medicine and eventually increase the number of physicians in the country. Under the proposed legislation, medical scholars will be required to work in the country for five years after graduation, two years of which shall be rendered in a government hospital or office where the scholar resides.

Sotto noted how the country's healthcare system teetered on the brink of collapse under the medical weight of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic due to the lack of health professionals to attend to the surge in the number of sick patients when local ttansmission went out of control.

Sotto is likewise seeking speedy debates on his proposed Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority Act (SBN 3), which aims to strengthen the government's fight against illegal drugs by unifying its four major programs - enforcement, prosecution, prevention and rehabilitation - into a single agency.

Another priority measure is the Hybrid Election Act (SBN 7), which pushes for an electoral system that would use manual voting and counting at the precinct level and electronic transmission and canvassing. The mixed mode is aimed at ensuring credible, accurate and transparent elections.

Sotto is also appealing for immediate committee hearings on the proposed Anti-False Content Act, or the Anti-Fake News bill (SBN 9). The measure prohibits and sanctions the publication and proliferation of false online content and promotes the responsible use of the internet.

The Senate chief is also urging his colleagues to act on his bill mandating the grant of an additional Christmas pay to workers in the private sector, or the proposed 14th Month Pay law (SBN 10).

"Times are difficult, especially with the impacts of the COVID-19 nightmare likely to haunt us for a long time. We need a break. These measures would, hopefully, give our people something to look forward to. Government needs to ramp up on its effort to uplift the lives of Filipinos, especially in the aftermath of this horrifying crisis," Sotto said.

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