Senators open 3rd session; Sotto asks colleagues for priorities

Published July 23, 2018, 12:42 PM

by iManila Developer

By the Philippine News Agency

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Monday banged the gavel at exactly 10 a.m. to formally open the third regular session of the Senate.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gestures after elected as a newly Senate President at Senate Building in Pasay city, May 21,2018.(Czar Dancel)
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

After the opening, the chamber immediately adopted Senate Resolutions 796 and 797 informing the House of Representatives and President Rodrigo Duterte, respectively, that the chamber has entered upon the exercise of its function for the third regular session of the 17th Congress.

All 22 senators from the majority and minority blocs were present except for Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who has been appointed as Foreign Affairs Secretary, and Senator Leila de Lima, who is detained at the police custodial center over drug charges.

Members of the Senate Majority are Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Juan Edgardo Angara, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Joel Villanueva, Loren Legarda, Manny Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Francis Escudero, and Sherwin Gatchalian.

The members of the opposition are Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV. Detained lady senator De Lima is part of the opposition.

The Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a joint session at 4 p.m. Monday at the Batasang Pambansa to hear President Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Sotto earlier said senators will hold a caucus on Tuesday, a day after Duterte’s SONA, to determine the “common priority legislative agenda” the Senate will tackle in the coming months.

According to Sotto, each senator had been asked to submit his list of priority bills for consideration of the whole body. The senators would then compare their list of common priority measures to that of the House of Representatives and the executive branch.

Sotto, for his part, said his priority measures include the proposed Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Medical Scholarship Act, the Presidential Anti-Drug Authority Act, and the Medical Scholarship Act of 2016, among others.

He added that during the caucus, senators would discuss the Consultative Committee’s (ConCom) draft federal constitution in order to “determine and gauge what would be the stand of the Senate” regarding charter change.

Likewise, Sotto said that lawmakers should expect longer sessions and an additional session day on Thursdays until December so that the chamber can finish its work before the campaign kicks off for the upcoming 2019 midterm elections.