Press Release
February 6, 2009

Zubiri: Senators make the grade
The working Senate moves 118 national & local bills through the legislative mill

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is confident senators "can hack it. We can deal with urgent measures as well as investigate controversies with speed and objectivity. We made the grade."

"Despite repeated quorum calls by members of the Minority, the momentum of law-making could not be stopped."

Within just three weeks of work, the Senate moved 118 important measures, as follows:

  • the 2009 budget, approved by Congress;

  • declaration and appropriation of funds for 112 independent national, vocational and science high schools, approved on Third Reading;

  • amendments to the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation charter, approved on 3rd Reading and sent to the House of Representatives requesting for concurrence;

  • amendments to the Pag-IBIG Fund, approved on 3rd Reading and sent to the House requesting for concurrence;

  • Baselines Bill, approved on 3rd Reading and sent to the House for concurrence;

  • Magna Carta of Women, approved on 3rd Reading and sent to the House for concurrence; and

  • National Cultural Heritage Act, approved on Second Reading.

"We face tough times ahead that the P1.415 Trillion budget should address. It can't be each man to his own; government must intervene."

"We have to create jobs for 5 million jobless Filipinos and around 6 million of underemployed Filipinos this year. The rule of thumb is that P100,000 investment in infrastructure generates one job such that the Senate designed the budget to be a pump-priming agent of the economy."

Zubiri cited the International Monetary Fund GDP growth projections for the country at a dismal 2.25 per cent and OFW remittances falling by 20% according to bankers.

"The economic doldrums pushed Finance Committee chair Senator Edgardo J. Angara to fine-tooth the proposed budget from the President. Now, it bears an indelible Senate stamp. For example, the economic stimulus fund identified specific targets so that spending will be transparent and the results easily quantifiable."

Among the expenditures lined up for the economic stimulus fund are: Talinong Pinoy, Education and Skills Development Training; aid to laid-off workers and small- and medium-enterprises; classroom construction; medical and dental supplies like vaccines and health care for far-flung barangays; food production; Bantay Kalikasan and Bantay Dagat; recycling of farm and forest waste.

"A slowing economy is a right time for more government investment in education as represented by the Senate's action on the 112 measures for national, independent, vocational and science high schools. They will get a boost in the arm" with the bills sponsored by Sen. Alan Peter Compañero Cayetano then chairman of the Education Committee, now headed by Sen. MAR Roxas.

"With numerous pyramiding and Ponzi schemes on top of collapsing banks, raising the maximum deposit insurance coverage from P250,000 to P500,000 as included in the amendments to the PDIC charter brought peace of mind to many depositors. Sen. Angara stressed that the unstable financial climate call for the enactment of this law."

Zubiri as former chairman of the Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement cosponsored the Pag-IBIG fund bill with major sponsor Senator Angara. "It reinforces the guaranteed benefits to its members even as it encourages housing investments and saving by members and industry. Housing, provident and insurance features of the Pag-IBIG fund will help solve our housing backlog. It is a basic need that should be available to each Filipino family."

"The Baselines bill got the Senate nod more smoothly than expected. After Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago explained that we will not surrender our claims to Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc and to the Kalayaan Group of Islands, more senators gave their support. We will meet the May deadline set in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."

"We will enclose the natural configuration of our archipelago within the basepoints in the Bill which comply to the UNCLOS. Then, we shall continue to stake our claims to Scarborough and KIG by making them part of our national territory under the regime of islands."

"The Magna Carta of Women is important so that the female members of society are not treated as second-class citizens. Even in this day, many women eat last and eat the least. Girls are not sent to schools. They are portrayed in derogatory manner and treated as sex objects. Many are discriminated against by employers even if they're well qualified for the job. Many refuse to lend them capital for livelihood without their husband's consent. Worse, solo mothers are often stigmatized."

Sponsored by a strong-willed woman Senator Jamby Madrigal, this bill has mustered Senate support.

"In the midst of international and national attention on the economy, Senator Angara pushed for the passage of the National Cultural Heritage Act to enrich our national identity and preserve tangible and intangible cultural property. This law will enable citizens to properly appreciate all aspects of our diverse Filipino heritage from World Heritage Sites to street names."

Clear-cut functions will be given to the various cultural agencies, as follows: Cultural Center of the Philippines for the performing arts; National Archives of the Philippines for archival materials; The National Library for books, manuscripts, presidential papers, newspapers, periodicals and electronic records; National Historical Institute for movable and immovable cultural property; National Museum for cultural and natural collection of Fine Arts, Archaeology, Botany, Geology, Zoology and Astronomy and their conservation; Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino for the development and promotion of the Filipino national language and conservation of ethnic languages.

"The Senate had a full plate and went down to serious work. Our differences were not insurmountable when it came to the people's welfare. Trabaho lang po muna tayo."

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