The Senate will continue working on pieces of legislation that would respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.
At the opening of the second regular session of the 18th Congress Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they will prioritize measures that will relieve or help Filipinos recover from the problems brought about by the health crisis.
“I speak for all the senators when I say that for the second regular session, your legislators will be proposing laws that will answer the question: How can we make this situation better for every Filipino?” Sotto said.
“We will continue where we left off in the shaping of adequate legislative response to this major challenge in our lives,” he added.
Sotto said he would be willing to lead the chamber in crafting a “holistic agenda” for the resumption of the sessions.
Among others, the measures include the improvement of the digital landscape to help Filipinos cope with the pandemic and support various communication and online transactional needs.
The senators will also be working to aid in the implementation of the distance learning programs for Filipino students.
“As we stay isolated, we must not neglect a generation of young people who would otherwise be deprived of advancing in their studies. We must support programs that will help the education sector migrate to more plausible learning platforms,” Sotto said.
To help revive the economy, Sotto said it is also important to have “a safe, efficient, and dependable public transport system that will ferry workers so that industries may again produce goods and services; and people can resume earning incomes to spend.”
Aside from this, he said there is also a need to encourage new businesses especially with shift in market economy.
“Government can help entrepreneurs find their place in the emerging business landscape by reassessing tariffs so as to ease business burdens where appropriate, as well as providing the means for new ventures to flourish,” the Senate leader said.
Finally, Sotto said that priority should also be given to measures supporting the arts.
“We must rebuild our nation in both body and soul. Great civilizations before us endured not only because they had material wealth, but because they lived a life nurtured by writers and artists,” he said.
“Sa panahon ng krisis, higit natin kailangan ang mga manunulat, mga makata, mga manlilika na tutulong sa ating intindihin ang nangyayari sa mundo. At sa gayong pagninilay-nilay, mahanap natin ang kahulugan ng buhay at hindi mawalan ng pag-asa sa gitna ng mga nararanasan pasakit (In this time of crisis, we need writers, poets, creators who will help us understand and what is happening in the world. And in this reflection, we may find the meaning of life and do not lose hope despite of all these sufferings).”
“For what good will we be if we survive all this, but lose our soul? It is my hope that the Senate help this nation emerge from the chaos of the pandemic with its mind and heart intact,” Sotto said.
Meanwhile, Sotto paid tribute to frontliners who continue to fight the pandemic. He described as a “beacon of comfort” the reports on the discovery and development of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are committed to saving lives, to reviving our economy, and to the creation of a shared future based on truth, respect, freedom, and love of nation,” Sotto said.