Press Release
June 1, 2023

SP Zubiri: Senate Had Successful, Productive First Regular Session
01 June 2023

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress a "success" for the Senate, highlighting not only the quantity but also the quality of the measures that have been approved by the chamber.

The Senate produced a total of six measures enacted into law--four of national application, and two local laws. Twenty-two bills are now also for the President's signature--seven of them national, fifteen local. Two national bills are pending bicameral conference committee, and six more national bills have been approved on third reading.

"A highlight among our accomplishments is our approval of eight of the priority measures of the administration," said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Three of these measures have already been passed into law, namely the SIM Registration Act, the Act Postponing the Barangay Elections, and the AFP Fixed Term Law.

Meanwhile, the measure on the Condonation of Unpaid Amortization and Interests on Loans of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, the Regional Specialty Centers Act, the Extension of the Estate Tax Amnesty Act, and the Maharlika Investment Fund Act are presently awaiting the signature of the President

The Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act has also been approved by the Senate on third reading, and needs only its House counterpart before it can move forward.

"While this scoreboard shows the quantity of our output, it does not describe the quality of each of these measures," said Zubiri.

"True to our tradition, we do not agree to proposals without discussion, nor embrace ideas without debate. We improve before we approve. We do not trade scrutiny for speed."

Indeed, the Maharlika Investment Fund only secured the Senate's third reading approval at 2:32 in the morning of Wednesday, after an 11-hour marathon session taken up by extensive line-by-line amendments to the bill.

Zubiri credited the performance of the Senate to his colleagues.

"All of the senators across the majority and the minority have toiled very hard, from their committee hearings to the rigorous debates and interpellations in plenary. If the Senate has had an excellent performance thus far, it is all thanks to them."

While the Senate was primarily focused on measures in the Common Legislative Agenda, they also acted on various local measures that will infuse much-needed funding into local governments and schools.

Thus far, the President has already approved the Cityhood of Carmona, Cavite, while fourteen more local bills, mostly concerning the establishment and conversion of schools, await his signature.

"Our national bills will always be our priority, but our local bills are indispensable in the development of our regions, and so we always make time for them as well," Zubiri said.

Apart from these measures, the First Regular Session also saw the Senate hold exhaustive probes into various issues of national concern, including skyrocketing prices and smuggling in the agriculture sector; the malversation of public funds; the shutdown at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA); and the Pamplona Massacre.

"In order to create truly effective laws, we need to address the most pressing issues of the day," the Senate leader said. "When we conduct hearings on anomalies, we do not merely find faults, we find solutions as well. Our intention is not merely to look for crooks to be indicted, but to find what remedial laws must be initiated."

The Senate has produced committee reports on the investigations into the overpriced and outdated laptops procured by the Department of Education though the Department of Budget and Management - Procurement Service, the soaring market prices of onions, and the NAIA air traffic management system glitch.

Zubiri assured that the Senate will remain hard at work throughout the sine die adjournment.

"The production of bills in the committee, the heartbeat of lawmaking, will continue. The pursuit of public accountability and good governance will not go on vacation either. There is no moratorium on the conduct of our oversight."

The Senate will reconvene for the Second Regular Session on 24 July 2023.

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