Senate will prioritize economic recovery bills --Sotto

Measures addressing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic top the list of the Senate's priorities for its second regular session, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Thursday.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an online interview, Sotto said the Senate, upon the resumption of sessions on July 27, will pass on third and final reading their proposed "Bayanihan to Recover as One Act", or the Bayanihan 2, which allocates P140 billion for programs sustaining the government's efforts against the coronavirus pandemic and help hard-hit sectors to recover.

The Bayanihan 2 was passed on second reading before Congress adjourned its first regular session last June. Sotto had said that the proposals of the executive department and the House of Representatives will be tackled in the bicameral committee conference meet.

"Doon sa (On the) Bayanihan 2, do not expect that the original proposal of the Executive Department noong bago namin ipasa on second reading, ay maaaccomodate, hindi na siguro (before we approve it on second reading will be accommodated). We will just allow Bayanihan 2 to stand as it is with some minor amendments," he said.

Sotto said other long-term economic stimulus plans pushed by the government finance managers that would require separate pieces of legislation will also be prioritized, such as the Acceleration Recovery and Investment Stimulus of the Economy (ARISE) bill, and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill for banks and other financial institutions hit by the pandemic.

The two bills have been approved in the House of Representatives.

He said the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which seeks to encourage investments in the country by immediately reducing the corporate income tax to 25 percent, will also be prioritized by the Senate.

Aside from COVID-19 measures, Sotto said congressional bicam meetings are also expected to be held for the bill strengthening the penalty for perjury, as well as the proposed Organic Agriculture Act of 2020 which the Senate recently approved on final reading.

Other priority bills include the proposed Expanded Solo Parents Act, the proposed Coco Levy law, the Medical Scholarship Act, the proposed creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, and the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act, among several others.

Sotto has also pushed for the approval of five of his pet bills.