Senate resumes session January 18, lists priorities

Published January 17, 2021, 6:24 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Senate will prioritize the ratification of the bicameral committee reports on the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill and the bill creating the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (CITF) when it resumes session Monday, Jan. 18.

(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said these two measures, along with the bill seeking to improve the confirmation of land titles by simplifying the procedures and requirements in granting land deed to farmers, are part of the Senate’s legislative to-do list.

“We will also approve on third reading the amendments to the AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act). Moreover, we will push for the measures that have been approved on third reading but has no approved counterpart from the House of Representatives,” Zubiri said in a statement.

He said this includes the measures that seek the establishment of separate prison facilities for prisoners convicted of heinous crimes; and the bill lowering the minimum height requirement for applicants of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Zubiri also said the Senate will continue to push for the passage of the measure that seeks to protect children by prohibiting and declaring child marriage as illegal; making the position of Cooperatives Development Officer mandatory in the municipal, city and provincial levels; fixing the validity period of license to own and possess, permit to carry outside of residence or place of business and registration of firearms; bill granting night shift differential pay to the government employees; and bill creating a National Transportation Safety Board.

Also part of the Senate’s agenda is the bill institutionalizing the grant of teaching supplies allowance for public school teachers; expanding the use of legal assistance fund; and bill establishing the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute

“We will also start the discussions and debates on amendments to Retail Trade Liberalization Act; increasing the age of statutory rape; amendments to the Public Services Act
and the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil).

Charter change, on the other hand, would not be a priority of the Senate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III had earlier assured, despite the ongoing committee hearings in the House of Representatives.

Sotto said there is difficulty pursuing proposals that seek to amend the 1987 Constitution due to the pandemic.

“Many of our people, even politicians, are wary about discussing it because of the issues concerned, as far as the entire population is concerned,” Sotto had said in a recent interview.

“Do we have time for it? If you are talking about Charter change, there is no time for it. It will be very difficult,” the Senate leader said.

Sotto also said the Senate will pursue passage of the Hybrid Elections Act which he said needs to be approved at the soonest time possible and before the May 2022 national and local elections.

The Senate chief also said the Upper Chamber will tackle the proposed Internet Transactions Act and the bill expanding the benefits received by solo parents or the proposed Expanded Solo Parents Act.